It was a black and blue Monday at the Washington Capitals' training camp yesterday and the man with the worst case of the blues was rookie right wing John Druce.
Druce, the Capitals' No. 2 draft pick, will undergo surgery Wednesday for torn ligaments in his right thumb. He suffered the injury when he was slashed during an intrasquad game Saturday.
Five other players -- Bob Carpenter, Dave Christian, Andre Hidi, Steve Hrynewich and Frank Joo -- were unable to practice yesterday because of less serious disabilities.
Druce's injury will put him out of action six weeks, probably erasing any chance of his making the Washington team. He will be returned to his Peterborough, Ontario, junior club when he is able to handle a stick.
"We had hoped to get him in a couple of exhibition games this week, to give him a chance to show us whether he was capable of playing here," said General Manager David Poile. "Realistically, the injury means that he will be spending the season in junior."
An NHL club must lose three men at a position because of injury before it is permitted to recall a player who has been returned to his junior team. For someone like Druce, who had no real opportunity to show whether he was ready for NHL play, a recall would be most unlikely.
Druce scored four goals during the intrasquad scrimmages but was scoreless in Friday's rookie game against Philadelphia, when he engaged in a rugged fight with Flyer Greg Smyth.
"I wasn't impressed with John early on, but once he relaxed he got better," said Capitals Coach Bryan Murray. "He was very nervous at first. I'm sure part of it was because the Peterborough press had indicated he would stay here. That added a lot of pressure.
"He wasn't skating as well as he did last year and he didn't play the same aggressive checking game. He did shoot well, though, and the last few days the other things were coming around."
Carpenter was still uncomfortable because of a muscle problem in the back, the result of being cross checked Friday by Philadelphia's Dave Poulin. Carpenter will not play against the Hartford Whalers in exhibitions at Binghamton, N.Y., Thursday and Hartford Friday, but it is hoped that he will be ready for Saturday's preseason contest against Boston at Capital Centre.
Christian suffered a pulled muscle in his hip during a scrimmage Sunday and will not be able to play for a week or longer.
Hidi has a slight crack in his nose, a sore neck and several cuts on his right hand, after he fought Flyers Rick Tocchet and Dave Brown Friday and then battled Greg Adams on three occasions in a scrimmage Sunday. Hidi is listed on a day-to-day basis.
Hrynewich has been idle since Saturday with a high strain in his ankle, which he twisted while scoring a goal during an intrasquad game.
Joo received a broken nose during a fight with Flyer Nick Kypreos in Friday's rookie game, the first of a series of fights in the game.
Carpenter was angry because Poulin was using an aluminum stick when the Philadelphia captain cross-checked him in the back in the first period Friday, forcing Carpenter out of the game.
"They say it's okay to use metal sticks, but they don't know what happens when you bang them against somebody's bones," Carpenter said. "The way he got me, I was afraid I might have broken a rib."
Poile said the general managers have discussed the safety of aluminum sticks since their use was approved by the NHL board of governors several years ago.
"There are some serious questions there, but it's hard to untie something that's been done," Poile said. "Companies have been putting them out in quantity since the NHL approved their use."
The camp championship will be decided today at 11:30 a.m. at Mount Vernon when Dave's Destroyers, without captain Christian and defenseman Joo, oppose Larry Murphy's Marauders, reduced to seven forwards by the loss of Druce, Carpenter and Hidi.