Just before the start of Hartford's game against Washington Saturday, center Doug Jarvis of the Whalers sat in enforced oblivion in the press box and said, "You never know in this business. One day you're not needed, the next you are."

Before the first period had ended, center Brent Peterson suffered fractured ribs. So Jarvis, who has not played since the second game of the season, most likely will be back in action Wednesday, when the Whalers face Montreal.

Jarvis, 32, had established an NHL record by playing in 964 consecutive games before he was benched in Boston Oct. 11. At that time, General Manager Emile Francis said that Jarvis was available to any interested party. Jarvis has not played since, although continuing to practice with the team.

"It can be monotonous just practicing," Jarvis said. "What I miss is the involvement, going home after a game and knowing I've done my job."

Regardless of his NHL future, Jarvis seems destined for a college coaching job. He has all the attributes: intelligence, perseverance and impeccable character.Suspended for Life

The Ontario Hockey League apparently is more serious than the NHL when it comes to eliminating violence. Defenseman Marc Laforge of Sudbury, a second-round Hartford selection in the 1986 draft, has been suspended for life from all Canadian junior hockey.

As the buzzer ended a 5-4 loss to Guelph Nov. 6, Laforge, 19, speared goalie Mike Parson and then broke three other players' noses in an unrestrained rampage before he was subdued.

Ted Green, the Edmonton assistant coach who almost lost his life in a horrifying 1969 stick fight with Wayne Maki, thinks it is time the NHL introduced severe, mandatory suspensions for players who use their sticks like machetes -- if nothing else, to prevent youngsters from copying the antics of NHL players.

"There are a lot of guys 5-foot-9, 5-foot-10, 175 to 180 pounds, who are being intimidated out of the game at an early age," Green said. "In those cases, hockey is the loser, because we're losing guys with speed and talent." . . .

NHL officials soon may find themselves bracketed with hydroplane drivers when it comes to paying insurance premiums. Latest to go down were referee Mike Noeth, whose cheekbone was shattered by a puck at close range, and linesman Jim Christison, who suffered multiple wrist fractures bracing himself after his skates were cut out from under him at the blue line. . .

Since Wayne Gretzky uttered his famed "Mickey Mouse" quote about the New Jersey Devils' organization in 1983, he has failed to score a goal in seven visits to the Meadowlands. . . Former Vancouver defenseman Jiri Bubla has been convicted in Austria for his role in a drug-smuggling ring. He will be sentenced today. . . The U.S. Olympic team has played 32 games, including nine against NHL opposition. Center Craig Janney picks the best players the Olympians have faced: Doug Gilmour of St. Louis and Bengt Gustafsson of Washington. . . .

Bernie Nicholls of Los Angeles, with six goals and six assists in four road games, was named NHL player of the week. . . WNVC-TV-56 and WNVT-TV-53 are carrying a 21-game college hockey schedule, focusing on the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. . . .

Harry Neale, the former NHL coach turned TV commentator, thinks teams should consider trading coaches instead of firing them. His prize proposal, which he insists would help both teams: a swap of Washington's Bryan Murray for Philadelphia's Mike Keenan.