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Old 03-12-2020, 03:26 AM   #1
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Everybody's happy ... Here comes the Sun King.

A Holiday Inn somewhere in Los Angeles County
Present Day

(FADE IN on a grouchy, depressed Kings' fan in his late 30s (early 40s? late 40s? who even knows or cares anymore?), mentally drained after a meeting with one company and the first day of a workshop with another, slowly walking toward his hotel room and muttering to himself about his hockey club)

"Another rebuild for this team. Another climb from the bottom. And this one will be tougher than the last one."

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"Ah, what the hell. At least I'll probably be able to sleep tonight."

(He showers, gets in bed, and starts to fall asleep. As if on cue, the phone rings. The phone is on the table at the other end of the bed. He doesn't get to it in time. He grumbles. There is a voicemail. He cues it up.)

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VOICE: "Es J.T.? C'est Rogatien. Bonjour???"

"The hell???"

(He's a bit puzzled for a while, but eventually goes back to sleep. The night passes without any further incident. The morning comes. The clock radio clicks on at 7 AM with an old song playing and then fading out.)

DISK JOCKEY: "Aaaaaaaaaand that's the number one song in the country, 'What a Feeling', by Irene Cara!"

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(He's annoyed, he didn't set that alarm; but a slight smile forms on his face nonetheless. "I kind of like those retro shows," he thinks. "Maybe this one's ending, though." Any further thoughts are obliterated by the phone ringing again. This is a ... different sounding ring, though? He goes to answer.)

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(He sits straight up. He momentarily ignores the ringing, and turns his head.)

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"What the hell is going on here? Where in the hell am I?"
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Old 03-12-2020, 04:00 AM   #2
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Don't bet your future
on one roll of the dice
Better remember ...
lightning never strikes twice

(He takes a deep breath, and answers the phone.)


VOICE: "J.T.?? Bonjour!!! C'est Rogatien ... Rogie!"

"Look. No disrespect, but the only Rogie I know of was a hockey goalie."

VOICE: "Yeah, those were the good old days."

"I don't even know what's old or new anym- ... wait, what did you say?"

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VOICE: "You heard me. This is Rogie Vachon. I'm the Alternate Governor of the Kings. And, I'm calling you about a job with us. We're in trouble. We need a shakeup. Now. We can't sit and wait any longer. We need your help."

"MY help?!?"

VACHON: "Just stop by the Forum on Thursday, at 1 PM. We'll talk about it then."

(The line goes dead. He hangs up and walks toward the front door. He opens the door and sees a newspaper on the ground in front of him.)

"What day is today???"

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"What on Earth is going on? It's my birthday in 1983? How the hell old am I?"

(He spies his wallet by the antiquated telephone.)

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"Well, at least I don't have to renew this thing for another year. And I don't have this meeting for a couple days."

(He calls down to the front desk, and asks for an update on his incidental charges.)

HOTEL EMPLOYEE: "Yes, Mr. Dutch ... all of your expenses are being paid for by a company called California Sports, Incorporated. A Rogie Vachon just called us to switch the billing."

"Oh? Right, then. I'd like to order room service."

(He places his order and hangs up the receiver.)

"And I'm apparently back in my twenties. This all has to be a dream. A ... very intense dream."
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Old 03-12-2020, 06:37 PM   #3
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Inglewood, California
June 30, 1983

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"Hard to believe it's been two decades since I've been to the Forum ... and the only reason I'm back here is because I'm three and a half decades in the past, somehow."

(He gets waved in, and arrives at Rogie Vachon's office. They shake hands.)

VACHON: "It's good to see you. Let's take a walk."

(They take an elevator up to the main concourse, and head through a tunnel into the main bowl of the Forum. They meet with four men, who are already sitting in spectator seats.)

VACHON: "Here are the four best players on the Los Angeles Kings as we head into the 1983-84 season."

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MARCEL DIONNE: "Hi, my name's Marcel. I'm a legendary player in this game. I'm 31, but I'm still the best player on the team. By sheer numbers, I'm one of the top ten scorers in hockey history. I'll be an absolute shoo-in for the Hall of Fame upon retiring."

(J.T. nods.)

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LARRY MURPHY: "I'm Larry. I'm a 22-year-old defenceman. I'm durable and consistently productive on the offensive end. I'll end up in the Hall of Fame, also."

(J.T.'s eyes widen. He glances over at Rogie, who simply nods and gestures toward the third player.)

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DAVE TAYLOR: "I'm Dave, but call me Stitch. I'm 27. I'm a fine defensive forward who's also capable of being a top-ten scorer in the league. I'm tough, and I'm a leader. I'm basically Bob Gainey with added offense. It's a crime that I don't end up in the Hall of Fame as soon as I become eligible, but I may get there one day."

VACHON: "Gainey ends up in the Hall of Fa-"

"I think I have a feeling where he ends up, Rogie."

(VACHON smiles. He gestures in the direction of the fourth player.)

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BERNIE NICHOLLS: "Hey, I'm Bernie. Like Larry, I'm 22 years old. I'm a bit of a free spirit, but I can play. I'm a great scorer and my hockey sense is excellent. I'll end up scoring many more points than a lot of Hall of Famers before I retire, but somehow won't get in myself."

(The players walk toward the tunnel and head to the concourse. J.T. and VACHON are still seated.)

"Did they just come here to introduce themselves to me???"

VACHON: "Not totally. They might get some work in the Nautilus room and then grab a bite to eat in the Forum Club."

"The Nauti-huh? Whatever. Anyway. There are two Hall of Famers and two borderline Hall of Famers within this team's nucleus, and all of them are either young or enjoying extended primes. That's tremendous! Are you on the threshold of a Stanley Cup? Do you need me to help get you guys over the hump? How far did you guys get in the playoffs last seas-"

(VACHON raises his hand with his palm facing J.T., effectively terminating J.T.'s questioning. VACHON then shakes his head ... slowly, and wearily.)

VACHON: "You don't understand, kid."

Last edited by JT_Dutch; 03-12-2020 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 03-12-2020, 11:56 PM   #4
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(J.T. and VACHON remain in the spectator seats at the Forum in Inglewood, California.)

"What don't I understand?"

VACHON: "We finished in last place in the Smythe Division last season. We didn't make the playoffs. By all rights we shouldn't have made the playoffs the season before last, but we barely got in."

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VACHON: "Come back to my office. I have more for you to see."

(Once they arrive in the office, VACHON produces newspaper clippings.)

VACHON: "It's getting to the point where no one cares, if it isn't at that point already."

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VACHON: "The fans that are still interested are angry, and with good reason."

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VACHON: "Some of the fans are cursing the owner of the team, Jerry Buss. They know he's more into the Lakers of the NBA, and Kings' fans believe the hockey club is being neglected. We'll talk more about Dr. Buss later."

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VACHON: "It's becoming so bad, that the media has joined in with some of the fans by calling for Dionne to be traded."

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VACHON: "And by all accounts, the outlook for the Kings in 1983-84 is to finish at the bottom of the division once again. This is why we need a shakeup. Now. We can't wait. It's not so much about winning a Cup - that's all but out of the question. But we have to compete. We have to become a perennial playoff team.

Dr. Buss is probably going to sell the club if things don't improve here, and there are doubts about Bruce McNall, the man rumored to purchase it. Specifically, there are many I know personally who wonder how legitimate Mr. McNall's financial backing really is."

(Finally, J.T. speaks.)

"I can't believe that a team with a nucleus like this can't win more games than they lose. I'm going to need some evaluations on all of the players in our system. If your scouts have anything on the other teams in the NHL, I'm going to need those as well. Anything.

We have a lot of work to do before the coming season starts. This is likely going to be a methodical process, so I hope those who are following the story here can be patient with us."
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Old 03-14-2020, 12:21 AM   #5
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Inglewood, California
July 1, 1983

(J.T. arrives at the Forum at 8 AM. Rogie VACHON is waiting for him.)

VACHON: "I received the go-ahead from Dr. Buss earlier this morning and we're ready to formally offer you the positions of General Manager and Head Coach of the Los Angeles Kings. But we're not going to publicly announce anything as of yet."

"Well, I don't think you guys would've brought me over 35 years into the past if you didn't think I would accept."

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"Hmmm ... good thing I'm living alone."

VACHON: "Pardon?"

"Everything looks good, Rogie. Money's fine. Let's get to work."

VACHON: "That's what I thought. Let's talk about Dr. Buss and your expectations."

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VACHON: "Dr. Buss isn't going to be around all that much. It's safe to say he likes the glitz and glamour of owning the NBA Lakers, as I mentioned. To say he's a free spirit is the understatement of the century."

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VACHON: "But, he does care about us. He feels like he's taken enough abuse from the fans to come to the games if the Kings aren't doing well, but he likes hockey a lot and he'll be around if you win.

I talked to him about the dialogue between you and I yesterday and he seems to think that getting you on board is an act that could mark a turning point with this franchise.

He wants to give it one final try - a last, best shot at bringing consistent success here. He promises the largest budget he's ever allotted to the Kings for payroll and other expenses."

(J.T. responds.)

"That's a good sign. You mentioned that you wanted to talk about his expectations."

VACHON: "Right. His expectation is to be in the race for a playoff spot, which is mildly interesting. My expectation (and yours) will be higher.

This league has 21 teams. SIXTEEN of those 21 teams make the playoffs. In order to miss the playoffs, we would have to finish last in our division. So, we could still be in the "playoff race" if we were in last place, provided we were close enough to the fourth-place team."

(J.T. leans back in his chair and nods.)

VACHON: "You talked yesterday about how you couldn't fathom a team with this nucleus couldn't win more games than it lost. That's going to be our expectation. A winning record. Come ... we need to look at more of our roster."

"They're not here?"

VACHON: "They're up the road a bit, in Culver City. We'll pick up some breakfast on the way."
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Old 03-14-2020, 04:28 AM   #6
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A Dumpy Old Rink in Culver City, California
July 1, 1983

(Rogie VACHON and J.T. enter and take front row seats behind one of the team benches. Since the ice surface isn't yet operational at the Forum, the players are working out here. A pickup game is in progress, so the familiar sounds of skate blades and pucks being passed and shot fill the small building. THREE MEN approach.)

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CHARLIE SIMMER: "I'm Charlie. Nice to meet you. I'm a 29-year-old left wing who usually plays alongside Marcel and Stitch. We're called the Triple Crown Line, in honor of our scoring prowess as a group."

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JIM FOX: "Hi, I'm Jim. I'm the second-line right wing on the team. I'm 23 years old. In my three years in the league, I've scored 76 goals, good for 22nd among all NHL right wings during that span."

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MARK HARDY: "I'm Mark. I'm a 24-year-old defenceman. After Larry Murphy, I'm the best blueliner on the club. I'm kind of a jack of all trades ... I can play on the left side or the right, and can be used on both special teams."

(J.T. turns to VACHON.)

"So we seem to have a terrific nucleus and solid enough depth up front, but we're finishing in last place? Something isn't adding up, here."

VACHON: "That leaves only ..."

"Only what???"

(VACHON simply sighs deeply in response. J.T. turns to the three players.)

"Talk to me, guys. What's the problem? Where are we going wrong?"

(The three players, almost simultaneously, lower their heads and glance back toward the rink.

On the ice, there are four goaltenders; two of them at center ice, and the other two occupying the two nets. One of the goaltenders at center ice falls down while stretching, and his mask tumbles off. The other goalie at center ice has his mask off and appears to be crying, holding his stick close to his body with both hands.

One of the goalies occupying a net gets scored on, fishes the puck out with his blocker hand and tries to throw the puck at the player who scored. He misses, and the puck loudly ricochets off the boards. The other net-occupying goaltender is banging his stick on the goal's crossbar while periodically cursing in french.)

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"Oh no."

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"Oh my God, no. No."

(The three players continue to look down at their respective feet. VACHON scowls and mutters some choice words, also in french.)

"How bad is it?"

VACHON: "We ... we have the worst goaltending in the NHL."


VACHON: "Lessard was one of the best goalies in the game in 1980-81, and within a year he turned into one of the worst; if not THE worst. Mattsson's been a journeyman backup since he left the World Hockey Association in 1980. Blake's a glorified minor leaguer. The only guy who has even a sliver of value on the market is Laskoski, and all of our scouts feel he has no future whatsoever, but at the moment he's our number one guy."

(Now, it's time for J.T. to lower his head and look at his feet.)

"No wonder you offered me the job before you came here."

(VACHON smiles weakly, and then stands. The players stand with him. They turn to head toward the exit.)

VACHON: "Meet you outside."
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Old 03-15-2020, 03:40 AM   #7
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(J.T. and Rogie VACHON make their way back the Forum. VACHON opens up the newspaper on his desk and shows J.T. a page in the Sports section.)

VACHON: "In case you were skeptical of what I mentioned yesterday about what people think our chances are for the upcoming season."

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"So, let's recap where we stand here. We know what our major weakness is."

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"I'm a little confused that defence is listed as a strength, though?"

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"We're 16th out of 21 teams on defence. We're not completely terrible on the blueline, but we are undoubtedly going to need some help there."

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"Also we have to be mindful that we're such a remote outpost in the NHL. Our nearest geographical opponent is over 2,000 kilometres away."

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"We're not going to be relevant in the league (and, in turn, relevant in our own market) if we don't do significantly better than barely squeaking in the playoffs."

VACHON: "Exactly. So, where do we begin?"

"Our staff. This renovation is going to be done from the top down."

VACHON: "I'll ask the secretary to get some coffee on."

"You guys don't have any five-hour energy?"

VACHON: "Any what?!?!"

"Right. I saw some diet coke in the machine down the hall. No worries."
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Old 03-15-2020, 05:06 AM   #8
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The Forum offices in Inglewood, California
July 1, 1983

VACHON: "You have the Staff Report?"

"Right here."

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(VACHON nods.)

"Hmmm ... I dunno. Doesn't look too promising, and that's quite a hefty payroll, yeah? And I see you're listed on here as an Assistant Coach???"

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(VACHON snatches the report from J.T.'s fingers and scowls as he reads it.)

VACHON: "C'est quoi, cette merde- ... excuse me, sorry. That was supposed to be removed from there. I have absolutely no desire to be behind the bench. I'll talk to Dr. Buss about it."

"Speaking of being behind the bench, are you going to stay with Perry as Head Coach? With all due respect ..."

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(VACHON interrupts.)

VACHON: "No. We're going to let Don go. He's not a bad guy, but it wasn't working out. We were losing too much, and that, combined with the Mulvey fiasco early last year ... it was just embarrassing for everyone here. That's not the kind of attention we want.

We just wanted to make absolutely certain you were our guy before we let the media know. You can retain the assistant coaches or go with your own guys."

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"You're going to let Maguire go, as well?"

VACHON: "Heh heh. We're actually not sure what we're going to do with him. I had someone leak to the media that he's headed to our farm club in New Haven, and someone else leak that we're kicking him upstairs. Just want to ruffle his feathers a bit. You'll see what I mean later. Maguire is a ... volatile personality, to put it mildly. He's really a beauty."

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VACHON: "Are we gonna look at our scouts next?"

"Well, there's one more guy I want to talk to, if you don't mind."
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(Rogie VACHON and J.T. remain in VACHON's office, going over staff decisions for the upcoming 1983-84 season.)

VACHON: "Who did you want to talk to?"

"Mike Murphy."

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VACHON: "Mon Capitaine! I have more respect for Mike as a player and a man than just about anyone I've ever met in the game of hockey."

"And, I understand that. I just don't know about his coaching attributes."

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VACHON: "Ouch. That's ... damn. That isn't going to work."

"Can he still play?"

VACHON: "He has retired as a player but he would definitely play one more season if I asked him. Would he make the roster? I think I have a scouting report somewhere around here."

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"I haven't addressed the full roster yet, but I don't see it. I wouldn't want him to come out of retirement to play fewer than ten minutes a night."


"If you want, I can keep him on as an assistant. It's alright."

VACHON: "No. Your staff is your call. I'll find a spot for him here, and I'll put in a good word about him to a few other clubs. Leave this decision to me. As long as I'm a part of this organization, he'll always have a job here if he wants it."

(J.T. nods. VACHON turns to look out the window. He sees someone familiar approaching the Kings' offices.)

VACHON: "Oh ****. He's here. Get ready."

"Who's here?"

(The main entrance door flies open.)

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(MAGUIRE stomps down the hallway to VACHON's office. VACHON turns to J.T.)

VACHON: "I told you this guy was a beauty."

(MAGUIRE reaches the office and glares at VACHON, then turns his gaze over to J.T.)


VACHON: "George, George ... settle down."



(MAGUIRE stops yelling and looks over at J.T.)

MAGUIRE: "So you think you know something about hockey, kid? I have ties older than you!"

(J.T. looks MAGUIRE in the eyes, then glances at his tie ... then responds.)

"It's nice to meet you too, Mr. Maguire."

(VACHON smiles and turns to MAGUIRE.)

VACHON: "So, George ... I heard that you visited the Culver City rink a couple days ago."

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MAGUIRE: "I wasn't in the mood to ****ing talk! Sue me!"

(VACHON rolls his eyes, then gestures in J.T.'s direction.)

VACHON: "This is our new General Manager and Head Coach, J.T. Dutch. I assure you that he's fully qualified to take these positions."


VACHON: "DON'T INTERRUPT ME, GEORGE! You've known for months that a shakeup was coming. We've let Perry go. Others will follow. We're going in another direction, whether you like it or not.

If you don't want to be part of it, you know your way out. Now are we going to talk like adults and try and get things done, or are we gonna yell and scream for ten minutes and find ourselves back where we started with the same problems?"

(MAGUIRE grumbles, but doesn't respond any further than that. He takes a seat.)

VACHON: "Now ... where the hell were we?"
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:50 PM   #10
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(J.T. turns to Rogie VACHON and then to George MAGUIRE.)

"Scouting is where we're at, now."

VACHON: "Okay. Do you want to make any changes there?"

"I want to let Ted O'Connor go."

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VACHON: "Done."

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(VACHON glares at MAGUIRE and looks as though he's going to start yelling, but J.T. responds in an even tone.)

"Relax, Mr. Maguire. I know a guy. He'll be very good for us."

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(J.T. also names his assistant coaches and rounds out the scouting staff.)

"The new Staff Report is ready."

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VACHON: "Looks great! Also, the payroll is much lower. You've saved us almost $90 grand!"

"All of it, and more, is going to be spent on player payroll. I'm estimating about $200 thousand will be needed to improve the roster."

(VACHON turns to MAGUIRE.)

VACHON: "Anything to add, George?"

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Old 03-24-2020, 05:14 AM   #11
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A Very Long Day in Inglewood
July 1, 1983

(J.T., Rogie VACHON, and George MAGUIRE remain in the war room.)

MAGUIRE: "It would've been nice to be kept in the loop about what's going on here. Is that too much to ask?!?"

VACHON: "Well, we know what your reaction is when someone asks you a question that you don't want to answer."

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MAGUIRE: "Yeah, OK. I got it."

VACHON: "Or when you find yourself in the wrong and don't feel like apologizing."

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MAGUIRE: "I'm NOT a damned Canadian diplomat! I get it!"

VACHON: "Or when you're just in a hurry and in a foul mood?"

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(VACHON tries to keep a straight face, but fails miserably and begins to laugh.)


VACHON: "Come on, George. Do me a favor and just relax a bit, okay?"

(MAGUIRE stares hard at VACHON.)

MAGUIRE: "No, Rogie. Have my duties around here been reduced to being the butt of the joke? Because I'd rather be gone if that's the case."

(J.T. speaks up.)

"No, Mr. Maguire ... they haven't. You're still going to be responsible for our selections in the Entry Draft."

(VACHON looks over at J.T. in astonishment.)

VACHON: "Pardon?"

"It's okay, Rogie."

(J.T. continues talking to MAGUIRE.)

"I've seen your draft record, Mr. Maguire. It's good. I don't see any reason to change anything on that front."

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(MAGUIRE nods.)

MAGUIRE: "Call me George."

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VACHON: "Sounds good. Now ... it's time to address the roster, isn't it?"

"It is."
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The Forum
July 2, 1983

(The previous day was one of the longest of J.T.'s life, but also one of the most fascinating and exciting days he'd ever lived through. He slept well, but woke up early and couldn't wait to get back to "work."

He arrives at the Forum at 8 AM, before anyone but the secretary. An hour later, he's in the break room looking over scouting reports when Rogie VACHON arrives.)

VACHON: "Good morning. We really need to get your office set up, don't we?"

"Good morning. Ready to get down to business? I have a list of the players who I consider to be untouchable."


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VACHON: "Looks good overall, but I have a few questions."

"I figured. Speaking of questions, where's George?"

VACHON: "He'll be along in the afternoon. He usually sleeps in a bit, and he'll be in Culver City for a while before he heads down here."

"Fair enough. Probably a good thing, actually. What were your questions?"

VACHON: "Definitely a good thing. Looks here like Russ Anderson's a fringe player, and we only got him because Hartford didn't want him ... but you're considering him an untouchable?"

"He'll be there for depth. After I get through trading, depth will be almost non-existent. We're going to be gambling almost everything we have for front-line talent. Also, I think Anderson's better than his overall rating would indicate."

VACHON: "You're going to be trading that much, huh?"

"Every player in the organization who isn't on this list will almost certainly be traded away."

(VACHON's eyes widen.)

VACHON: "Holy ****. We have 47 players under contract. You're sure that you're going to be trading away nearly 30 guys???"

"Positive. Any other questions?"

VACHON: "Wow, okay. Garry Galley doesn't have a uniform number yet?"

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"Galley will be wearing number 3, but it'll be while he's down in New Haven this season. He's the best prospect we have on the blue line, and I don't want to rush him. Hopefully he'll be ready for the big club in 1984-85."

VACHON: "Makes sense. What about Wes Jarvis? I notice he doesn't have a number, either."

"Well, he preferred 16, and we're not about to give him Dionne's number. As I recall, he said he would be fine with any number ending in 6, so we're gonna give him 36."

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VACHON: "Mike Heidt? Is he coming along ahead of schedule? I thought he would be in the minors this season."

"Yeah, he's going to be in New Haven. I might call him up this season in a pinch, though. We're not going to trade him because he's a recent high draft pick, and there might be a bit of fan backlash if we deal him away at this time."

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(VACHON nods.)

VACHON: "Yeah, the last thing we need is more angry fans. But we're hoping we'll see some optimism on that front with the changes we've made and are continuing to make."

"Definitely. Finally, here's something I prepared yesterday but never got a chance to show you. It's what I call our cupboard.

This is simply a list of all of the players we have who are 24 years of age or younger who wouldn't (or potentially wouldn't) look out of place in the NHL."

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VACHON: "We're assuming a normal growth curve for those guys who aren't ready to play in the NHL just yet?"


VACHON: "Looks like things are beginning to take shape. What's next?"

"It's time to make some moves. Here's where the fun begins."
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(Rogie VACHON and J.T. are in VACHON's office, discussing player personnel.)

VACHON: "So, we're gonna start trading now? Let me get our traveling secretary on the horn. He'll need to be ready to be contacted by the guys we acquire, so that we can facilitate the moves as best we can."

"Well, before we start trading ... I was looking at some of the free agents on the market yesterday, and there were a couple of Swedish guys that looked interesting to me. I'm not sure what they're going to ask for money-wise, but if they're affordable enough, I'd like to pick them up."

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VACHON: "Which ones were you interested in? The top two guys on the list?"

"Yeah. Eldebrink already has some NHL experience. He played a handful of games with Quebec last season."

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"Ohling is a wild card. Never played in the NHL before. I'm not even sure he even wants to come to North America. Only one way to find out."

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VACHON: "So you're talking about meeting with both of them directly?"

"Yeah. Eldebrink's still in Canada, from what I've heard. But I'd have to go to Stockholm to see Ohling. Is that doable?"

VACHON: "I'll try and get the go-ahead from Dr. Buss. Seems reasonable enough, though. He won't be too pleased if you don't come back with at least a written commitment, though."

"Him and me both."
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(J.T. turns to Rogie VACHON.)

"Alright, the first guy I want to trade for is someone this franchise shouldn't have let get away in the first place. You noticed that we didn't have a first Alternate Captain on that list of untouchables, didn't you?"

VACHON: "I did. You want our old Captain back. Yeah, I do too."

"Exactly right ..."

VACHON: "... Dave Lewis."

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"What in the World happened there???"

VACHON: "I really don't know. It was Don Perry's and George Maguire's call. Maybe Dave was made out to be the one of the scapegoats of a team that didn't play well."

"Well, the two of them aren't here now. Can we contact him? Is there a number we have here on file?"

VACHON: "Yeah, I think so. Let me see ... okay, here it is."

(J.T. dials the number.)

VOICE: "Hello? Is this Mr. Maguire? I'm really not interested in talking right now."

"No, this is J.T. Dutch, the new General Manager here in L.A."

VOICE: "This is who???"

"I'm here with Rogie Vachon. We're going in a different direction here."

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DAVE LEWIS: "What does that have to do with me?"

"You were a Captain here. A lot of the guys would be happy to see you with the club again. I'm also looking to acquire a couple other guys who were on the club here last season and the season before. I think it was a big mistake to let you leave. Would you be interested in coming back?"

LEWIS: "Is Perry still there? What about Maguire?"

"Perry isn't. Maguire is, but ..."

LEWIS: "I'd love to come back, but I don't want to deal with George."

"Dave, listen to me. George doesn't have any say on this. He's only going to be dealing with the Entry Draft and minor league player development from now on.

I'm not only the General Manager, but I'm also the Head Coach. No one else will be involved with this. I need you back here. You're going to play regularly. I promise it'll be a better situation."

LEWIS: "Let's do it. If you can get me, I'm on board."

"I appreciate it, Dave. And we're going to make it happen."

LEWIS: "You said Rogie's there? Can I chat with him?"

"Of course."

(J.T. hands the phone to VACHON.)

VACHON: "Hello, Dave. I'm completely on board with everything J.T. has to say. We can't wait to have you back here."

VACHON: "We're taking a gamble here, and everything's going to depend on how healthy we are over the course of the coming season, but our goal is to show a winning record and make the playoffs in a more decisive way than squeaking in by the skin of our collective teeth."

VACHON: "I'm looking forward to it, too. See you out here. Take care."

(VACHON hangs up the phone. J.T. picks up the phone and calls the New Jersey Devils. The deal is made.)

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(George MAGUIRE suddenly enters the office. He sees the paperwork on the desk.)

(VACHON sighs.)

VACHON: "Wasn't expecting you, George."

MAGUIRE: "Are you guys talking about bringing Lewis back?!? What the hell's that all about?"

(J.T. responds.)

"It's already done, George. Al Tuer's going to New Jersey in the deal."



MAGUIRE: "No, Rogie. Tuer's a young guy who's tough and can fight, and can be called up in a pinch. We're going to get pushed around out there. You're going to let him go and then bring in guys from Sweden, who will also get pushed around?!? This makes no sense!"

(J.T. scowls, and speaks up.)

"George, you're going to do this to me on July 2nd? There's plenty of time. The work isn't done; it's just beginning. The two free agents from Sweden that I'm looking at are probably going to be traded away for other guys. It's a process.

And, as for toughness, don't worry about it. I know a couple of guys. And we're going to do all we can to get them. One of them we should be able to get right away. He's young, and he's as mean as they come."

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(Rogie VACHON and George MAGUIRE look at the last photo and are perplexed.)

MAGUIRE: "Who the hell is that guy???"

(J.T.'s on his way out the door, but he answers.)

"You'll find out before the day is over, I assure you. I need to go to the airport. See you guys."

(About eight hours later, J.T. calls VACHON from JFK airport in New York.)

"Rogie, I'm waiting for my flight to Stockholm to board. I've made a deal with Pittsburgh. Can you do me a favor and let me know when the league approves it?"

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VACHON: "This is the mystery man you were telling us about?"

"Yep. I think the fans in L.A. are going to love him."

(After another flight and about six hours of sleep, J.T. is ready to look for Jens Ohling in Stockholm in the afternoon of July 4.)

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"So Ohling's club, Djurgårdens IF, plays in a barn called 'Hovet'?"

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(At 6 PM Stockholm time, J.T. calls VACHON again.)

VACHON: "Good evening out there. How's everything going?"

"Better than expected. Saw Ohling on the ice for almost an hour. Thank goodness one of his teammates spoke some English. Turns out he's wanted to play in the NHL for some time, but no one really took the time to come out and see him play, or made him a serious offer."

VACHON: "How serious an offer did you make?"

"Wasn't a lot of money at all. Also talked to Anders Eldebrink on the phone about a half hour before calling you. He's interested in signing with us as well. I won't even have to visit him in Fredericton. Both guys combined will probably cost us less than $50 thousand."

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VACHON: "Sounds great. Anything else going on?"

"I'm making another deal. It should shore up our defense quite a bit."


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VACHON: "George mentioned that he wanted Engblom pretty badly, as I recall. In fact, he was ready to trade Larry Murphy for him."

"The hell? Why on Earth would he trade away Murphy???"

VACHON: "I have no clue. I was just as shocked as you when I heard about it."

"No wonder this franchise has been struggling. Is he in the office with you now?"

VACHON: "Nah, he didn't want to be around here so he's gonna watch the guys work out in Culver City all day."

"Lucky you."

VACHON: "Definitely. Have a safe flight home. Good work out there."
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Back in Inglewood, California
July 5, 1983

(J.T. arrives at the Forum in the afternoon. Rogie VACHON greets him.)

VACHON: "Good to see you back. Still jet-lagged, huh?"

"Good to be back. As much as one can be, I think."

VACHON: "Just to let you know, Eldebrink and Ohling agreed verbally to their deals while you were on the flight back here. We're just going to report that they've signed, but they obviously won't be putting pen to paper for at least a couple weeks."

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"Good deal. Is George not around?"

(There is a yell from the break room, where George MAGUIRE is requisitioning a couple of slices of pizza from the box on the table.)


"Did you hear about McSorley?"

MAGUIRE: "I did ... I like him already. Also heard about you getting Engblom. Not too bad at all."

"I have another deal in the works that I think you'll like."

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MAGUIRE: "HOLY SH*T! That's more like it. You've read my mind!"

VACHON: "Very nice, indeed. Have to think our guys will be happy to not have to go against him."

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"But I also have a deal I want to make that you guys might not like."

MAGUIRE: "For who?"

"I want Steve Bozek back here."

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VACHON: "Hmmm ... I suppose I'm alright with that."

MAGUIRE: "That guy gave up on the team last season! He just didn't want to play! Ask Perry!"

"I don't want to ask Perry. Steve was legitimately injured, George. I've read the trainer and doctor reports. He had a sprained shoulder and a sprained knee. I don't buy that he was malingering."

MAGUIRE: "Pfft. He scored 27 goals in his first 36 games, and after that he coasted! He's only scored 19 goals in his last 88 games!"

"I think the goal-scoring run at the beginning of his career was a bit of a fluke. And, I'm not necessarily getting him to score. He has skill, but I think there's a lot more potential in him to be a defensive forward who can chip in 10-15 goals a season. We have enough scoring on this team, don't you think?"

MAGUIRE: "Ah, do what you want! Blow it out your arse!"

(MAGUIRE stomps off to requisition some more pizza.)

VACHON: "I guess he's not your friend anymore."

"Maybe I should go back to calling him 'Mr. Maguire' again?"

(VACHON smiles faintly.)

"Look, Rogie ... I believe in this guy. And, he got it done in the '82 playoffs. No one can deny that."

VACHON: "A defensive forward, though?"

"Yeah, that's my plan, anyway. But he has enough skill to not look out of place in the top six in case one of those guys go down. He can adjust; he's a good player."

VACHON: "Alright. I can see your mind's made up on this. Make your deal."

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July 6, 1983

(J.T. arrives at Rogie VACHON's office. George MAGUIRE is conspicuously absent.)

VACHON: "You alright? You're almost as white as a sheet."

"Sick as a dog, and still jet-lagged. Where's George?"

VACHON: "Then get out of here. George was complaining about being ill earlier this morning. I doubt he's coming in."

"Well, I had planned to make a couple deals. Today's the day to address our most glaring weakness."

VACHON: "Goaltending?"

"What else? This shouldn't take too long. We used to have a goaltender ... Doug Keans. What happened to him?"

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VACHON: "George put him on waivers in May. Boston claimed him."


VACHON: "Are you thinking of re-acquiring him?"

"Well, he's a damned sight better than what we have now. I don't know how or why George didn't see that, but that's why he needs to be permanently kept away from player personnel decisions."

VACHON: "I can't disagree with that."

"It's gonna cost us to get Keans back. But I think the Bruins might do a deal. They already have a good number one goalie in Pete Peeters, and a credible backup in Marco Baron. We can send them Gary Laskoski, who's far better suited to be a number two or three goalie, anyway."

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VACHON: "Okay. So we have a number one in Keans, now."

"Not so fast. Keans is a backup. At best, he's a co-number one. I wouldn't count on him to handle the load of a true top goalie. We're going to need someone else; another co-number one at least."

VACHON: "Understood. So, who else can we get?"

"I'm looking at the New York Rangers. They have a fine number one in Glen Hanlon, and one of the best up-and-coming goalies in the league in John Vanbiesbrouck. The guy who's lost in the shuffle over there is Steve Weeks. Again, it'll cost us, but he's our best option."

VACHON: "The Rangers probably have more young talent than anyone in the league right now."

"Indeed. I think there's a forward over there who's also lost in the shuffle. I'm going to try and get him, too."

VACHON: "Good luck."

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"Alright, that'll do."

VACHON: "It cost us Terry Ruskowski, huh? George was mentioning that he was going to be a leader on the club for the foreseeable future. And, he was also going to be a top-six forward, wasn't he?"

"He's someone I didn't want to part with, but we have to do what we have to do. Goaltending was a more pressing need. Our top five is Dionne, Taylor, Nicholls, Simmer, and Fox. We might need to use Bozek or prospect Brian MacLellan to round out the top six. Or we might use Doug Smith."

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VACHON: "I thought Smith wanted out, though?"

"With Perry out and Maguire's role limited to the Draft, I'm hoping I can chat with him, let him know the direction we're moving in, and get him to change his mind about us. I think there's still a lot of unrealized potential there."

VACHON: "I'm going to be with you on this. But be prepared to take the heat if you're wrong."

"Comes with the job, Rogie. Anyway ... now we have two co-equal number one goalies, and at this point I'd say they're nearly identical talent-wise."

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VACHON: "Right. Looks like we're about fair to middling at this point."

"We've moved from the slums to the suburbs, I suppose. I'm headed home."

VACHON: "Get better. See you in a few days."
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