This has been a season full of day-afters for the Washington Capitals. Yesterday they tried to regroup after Tuesday's jolting news that one of their newest teammates, John Kordic, will be out for an undetermined period of time while seeking treatment for what the team called an alcohol-related problem.
Kordic will not be with the team this morning when it leaves for Calgary and the start of a three-game road trip that will include stops in Vancouver and Los Angeles. General Manager David Poile spoke to the team before yesterday morning's practice.
"We just hope things work out for the best for him," said Rod Langway, who won't be making the trip because of his sore back. "Like Alan May said yesterday, he's still a teammate. As a person and human being, he's still a teammate.
"He made his presence known and played well for the team. If he has a problem, I hope he can work it out. I know he has 24 or so people here who will do anything for him. Right now, it's between him and the doctors. It's professional help that family and teammates can't help with. If he wants help, he knows he can come to us."
There is some indication Kordic is getting treatment in the Washington area, but he could not be reached for comment. Poile would give no details on where Kordic is being treated or how long that treatment might take.
"I don't know when I'm going to know," said Poile, who added he will be in daily contact with those involved in treating Kordic.
Kordic's agent, Howard Gorwitz, declined to elaborate.
"I've spoken to the club repeatedly and I'm sure I'll talk to John in the next few days," said Gorwitz, who last spoke to Kordic on Monday.
Poile said that, at least for now, Kordic is being paid while under suspension. It's possible the Capitals could invoke a breach-of-contract clause for his failure to show up for practice or being unable to perform, which would mean they could suspend his salary. Kordic is in the option year of his contract.
"I have to think about some things," said Poile, who didn't rule out that possibility.
It is a trying situation in several ways for the Capitals. On a personal level, they are hoping Kordic can solve his problems. As players and coaches and managers, it represents another distraction in a season full of them. As a team, they have enjoyed the results (4-0) when Kordic was in the lineup. There's no way to tell if they will be able to continue to play that aggressive, physical style without him.
"Things change in this business," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said. "I've learned to adjust in the last year."
Kordic arrived on Jan. 24 in a trade with Toronto. Asked if the Capitals now need to make another deal for added toughness, Poile said: "I haven't given it any thought because in my mind this is not a final situation."
Meanwhile, Langway practiced yesterday for a third straight day and said he thought he was progressing enough to go on the trip, even though he wasn't sure if he would play more than one game. But Poile and team doctors decided the many hours in airplanes for a few hours on the ice wasn't a good exchange. So Langway will remain here.
"I feel close, but so far away," Langway said.
He will skate in Baltimore with the Skipjacks. He said he will see team physician Stephen Haas on Monday, but also will continue getting treatment from a chiropractor he began seeing this week.
"I was worried," Langway said Tuesday in reference to the medical community's suspicions of chiropractors. "I gave the team doctors four weeks and it was frustrating them too. They wanted me to try some other medicine. I'd had enough of the medicine."
Langway will be joined in Baltimore by right wing Peter Bondra, whose ailing left shoulder makes him unavailable for duty this weekend. Steve Leach, who also missed the previous three games with a shoulder injury, will go back into the lineup.
But that leaves the Capitals with no extra forwards or defensemen, a risky situation given how far they are traveling. To address that, defenseman Mark Ferner and center Alfie Turcotte were called up from Baltimore yesterday.
Turcotte, who had an earlier stint with the Capitals, had 25 goals and 43 assists in 51 games with the Skipjacks. Ferner, who has been up twice before this season, had 10 goals and 26 assists.