Sullivan replaced Andrea with Val Fonteyne the next time Bathgate and McDonald were on the ice. Fonteyne is a fine skater but not a stickhandler, and centermen must be good stickhandlers. Soon the Penguins were breaking out of their zone and Bathgate was busting up the right wing, just as he used to do in New York and Toronto and Detroit. Ingarfield undoubtedly would have headmanned the puck to him. Fonteyne did try, but the pass was 10 feet behind Andy and another play was ruined. It was that kind of night. The Penguins lost 5-1, and Bathgate, who set up their only goal with a sharp pass to McDonald at the goal mouth, was voted their top player of the game.
Afterward, his stitched face wrinkled in a grimace, Bathgate dressed slowly, then went out to have a chocolate milk shake and two pieces of Danish pastry. "It's frustrating when you lose, especially the way we did tonight," he said. "We stopped skating and didn't hit people at all. But we'll get it back. At least it's not like last year."
Playing for the Red Wings last season, Bathgate scored only eight goals in 60 games. "He just wasn't shooting the puck," said Leo Boivin, the bruising body-checker who also was with the Wings last year and now is the Penguins' only reliable defenseman. "He'd get the puck like he used to, but instead of shooting he'd try to cut around the defense and work from in close. With his shot, he's got to shoot."
At one time last year the Red Wings sent Andy to the minor leagues for six games, hoping he could regain his scoring touch. "I really never thought I lost it," he said. "It was just that they were playing me on the left wing—and I can't play that side. When I came back up, they had me at right wing on a line with Ted Hampson and Dean Prentice for a while, and we won eight of nine games. We were losing the next game to the Black Hawks 2-1 after two periods and they took me off the wing and played Floyd Smith. I knew then it probably was over for me." This year, though, Bathgate has played like the Bathgate of years past. He still skates straight up, like a pencil, and he still wheels around on the curved blade of his stick to get into good scoring position. And as the Penguins' only legitimate star, he also is the No. 1 target for catcalls in other rinks. "Hey, Bathgate," as the squealer said from the third balcony in the Boston Garden the other day, "you look like a penguin. You play like a penguin. You are a penguin."
At 35 Andy admittedly does not have too many years left, but he is well set financially, with a golf driving range and an apartment house in Toronto. "I think that some players retire too early," he says. "I mean, when you're there, why get out?"
Bathgate is there again, right where he used to be—leading his team and his division in scoring. "His legs may not be what they once were," says Sullivan, "but Andy's still got that shot and that noggin. And that's more than most people have."