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The NHL / Chris Baker : His Is an Unsettling Occupation, Melanson and His Wife Discover

December 18, 1985|CHRIS BAKER

It's not easy being the wife of a hockey player. Just ask Janice Melanson.

Melanson's husband, Roland, a veteran goaltender, was traded to the Kings last week in a three-way deal with the Minnesota North Stars and New York Rangers.

The Melansons were just getting settled in Minnesota. Melanson had been traded from the New York Islanders to Minnesota for a first-round draft choice in November of 1984.

They had their first child last August and were renting a house in Edina, Minn.

Then, last Monday, the North Stars traded Melanson to the Rangers for a second-round draft pick in 1986 and a fourth-rounder in 1987. The Rangers in turn traded Melanson and defenseman Grant Ledyard to the Kings for left wing Brian MacLellan and a fourth-round draft pick in 1987.

Melanson has been out of action since he pulled a groin muscle Nov. 19 in a game against Calgary, so he has yet to skate for the Kings.

In fact, Melanson will leave Friday to join their minor league team in New Haven, Conn., where he'll play his way back into shape before rejoining the Kings next month.

His wife will take their 3 1/2-month old son, Matthew, and spend Christmas with her parents in Moncton, New Brunswick. He'll spend Christmas with friends in New York.

"This is the first Christmas that we've been apart," Janice Melanson said by phone from Minnesota. "But it's a little hard to live in a hotel room with a baby. It seems like we've been living in a suitcase for the last year and a half."

She plans to join her husband when he arrives in Los Angeles next month.

"It's going to be nice to get out of the snow," she said. "I guess I'll have the best tan when we go back home to Moncton."

Her husband is excited about the trade.

After winning 20 or more games three times in five seasons with the Islanders, he was traded to Minnesota last season.

But Melanson, whose nickname is Rollie the Goalie, became Rollie the practice goalie in Minnesota.

He was the odd man out in the North Stars' three-goalie system.

"Things didn't work out as well as we anticipated in Minnesota," Melanson said. "But it's in the past. We'll turn the page. I'm very excited about it. I really hope the L.A. Kings have made a good investment."

Asked what had gone wrong in Minnesota, Melanson said: "I've asked that question to myself a lot of nights going to sleep. I don't really think they were looking for a goaltender when we came here. They were trying to deal me right from the start of training camp.

"It's something that I'm willing to forget very quickly. Everything goes in a circle. I've been at the top and won Stanley Cups. I've seen the bottom. Hopefully the success can come again."

Melanson said that his injury was partially the result of not playing or practicing.

"I hurt myself a month ago in Calgary," he said. "I had played the previous Sunday in Chicago after they sat me out for three weeks doing nothing. I couldn't even practice because of ice time. Out of the three weeks, I probably practiced 7-8 days at the most. It's tough enough to keep up your conditioning if you practice every day.

"I was a little stiff after I played in Chicago. And I pulled my groin (muscle) the next game. It was fairly bad. They thought it was pulled off the bone originally because there was a lot of bleeding on the leg.

"I've worked hard to recuperate from the injury. I'm only 4-5 days away from full practices. And then I'll be ready to play. I'll play 4-5 games in New Haven."

Melanson hasn't seen the Kings play this season, but he plans to watch a couple of videotapes before he goes to New Haven. Goaltending has been one of the Kings' weakest areas this season.

"They had a good squad last year," he said. "And I don't know what the problems are now. But nothing would be more rewarding to me than for things to turn out exactly the way (King General Manager) Rogie Vachon wants. I'm very happy to play for a person like Rogie who has been a goaltender himself. He can relate to goaltending more than (North Stars General Manager) Lou Nanne."

The NHL may not have a problem with drugs, but it seems that alcohol has become one.

Last month goaltender Pelle Lindbergh of the Philadelphia Flyers was killed in an alcohol-related accident.

Edmonton's Dave Hunter, sentenced to four months in jail, was released from custody three hours after receiving his sentence only because of the quick work of his lawyer. It is a temporary reprieve from serving the time immediately.

Hunter was convicted of drunken driving while intoxicated for the third time, which carries a mandatory jail term in Canada.

Hunter was also given a three-month sentence to run concurrently for refusing to take a breath test and was fined $750 for driving without a license.

Hunter was charged with impaired driving last Jan. 17, after having been stopped twice the same day. The first officer let him off with a warning and told Hunter to let a passenger drive. But Hunter ignored the warning and was arrested by a second officer who stopped him later.

The Oilers also have center Craig MacTavish, who last spring was released from jail after serving one year for vehicular manslaughter in an alcohol-related accident.

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