Mike Bossy scored the only goal in the New York Islanders' 3-1 loss at Winnipeg last Sunday, but it was significant for him, if not for the Islanders. It was goal No. 545 for Bossy, which moved him past Maurice (Rocket) Richard into sixth place on the NHL all-time scoring list.
It's not remarkable that Bossy was more disturbed about the loss than thrilled with the milestone, because he is one of the game's classiest players. What is notable, however, is the time it took Bossy to reach the mark. Richard, of the Montreal Canadiens, needed 18 seasons and 978 games to score 544 goals. Bossy passed him in 10 seasons and 702 games.
Ahead of Bossy in scoring are Gordie Howe with 801 goals, Phil Esposito with 717, Marcel Dionne with 671, Bobby Hull with 610, and Johnny Bucyk with 556. Only Dionne is still an active player. Bossy, who will be 30 Jan. 22, has said that he will retire after next season.
A back injury forced Bossy to miss four games this season. Since his return, he has 12 goals and 9 assists in his 12 games. He's seeking an NHL-record 10th straight 50-goal season.
Bossy's goal was not the only excitement in that game. Thirty-two seconds into the second period, referee Bob Hall overruled the goal judge on an apparent goal by Rich Kromm, who has not scored in 11 games for the Islanders.
The goal would have given New York a 1-0 lead. Bryan Trottier's shot hit the right post, and Kromm swept the rebound in, or thought he did. Goaltender Eldon Reddick was down on the ice and the puck appeared to hit his arm behind the goal line. The red light went on, but Hall overruled.
"It wasn't in because it was under my arm," Reddick said."
Kromm saw it differently. "I thought it went in. I thought Trot's (shot) went in, too. I thought his shot hit the post, then hit the post in back of the net before it came to me."
Trottier was mad after the game and aimed his displeasure at Hall. "What's the sense (arguing) with a jerk like that," he said of Hall, who has a reputation for being unyielding. "With him you can argue until you're blue in the face. He won't ask for help or anything."
Bossy was asked if he thought Hall was arrogant, but Trottier answered for him: "No, you can't call him arrogant, because you got to have a personality for that personality to be arrogant. He played God and loved it."
He was the top scorer for the Rangers last season, but Pierre Larouche was benched in last Monday night's Ranger loss at New Jersey. Coach Ted Sator cited Larouche's "indifferent and ineffective play."
There was speculation that Larouche was preparing to leave the team in protest.
General Manager Phil Esposito had no comment but Sator said: "He has to show the rest of his teammates he wants to work as hard as they do. About 10 days ago, I talked to him about his intensity. If I had noticed some difference, Pierre Larouche would be playing for the New York Rangers."
Larouche has six goals this season, four on power plays. He has scored twice in the last 11 games and has a minus-9 defensive rating. Larouche, a two-time 50-goal scorer with Pittsburgh and Montreal, was sent by Sator to the minors last season.
If he were to leave the Rangers, Larouche would join a long list of players who have departed after disagreements with Sator.
The Washington Capitals have had their problems this season. Theirs and everyone else's, it seems. Despite a 7-10-3 record, the Capitals have won only 2 of their last last 10.
In their 6-2 loss to Philadelphia, the Capitals gave up four goals in the first period, and part of their problem was an inability to clear the slot.
Veteran goaltender Pete Peeters, whom the Kings claimed when Washington tested him on the waiver wire, said another problem for the Capitals has been a lack of direction.
"I've gone through those (phases) a couple of times in my career," said Peeters, who has also played in Philadelphia and Boston. "It's basically attitude, something we're recognizing in the dressing room as players. It's not something you can change overnight. But over a two- to three-week period, we should be able to turn it around.
"There's not a lot of tradition here, like in Montreal or Boston or Philadelphia. But there's no reason why we can't put on a Washington Capitals sweater and be proud of it. I think that is what we're missing."
Washington has scored 18 goals in its last nine games and is getting little help from its special teams. The Capital power play is 21st--last--and the penalty-killing unit is 20th.
After the loss to the Flyers, Coach Bryan Murray said: "I told them I was embarrassed for them and for the coaching staff. They were not doing what this team should do best--work. The top players have no confidence and they won't hold onto the puck. Possession time can be very important. But we don't establish control the way we did."
NHL Notes It is a statistic familiar to King fans: The New York Rangers have led in 16 of 18 games this season and are 4-8-4 in those games. Rookie defenseman Terry Carkner thinks he knows why the Rangers can't hold a lead: "One guy makes a mistake, we all start doing it," he said. "When you get a 5-1 lead and you let them get back, you're making too many mistakes." . . . . New York Islander goaltender Billy Smith was washed up when he suffered a back strain earlier this season, according to New York critics. The 35-year-old has stopped 82 of 90 shots since returing to the lineup. . . . The Boston Bruins have hired Terry O'Reilly as coach, at least until the end of the season. O'Reilly had retired from the game but found his enthusiasm had returned. You couldn't tell that, though, from this quote the day the hiring was announced: "If you'd given me a list of 100 occupations, you'd probably put coaching at the bottom."