Schultz, who commands a $75,000 annual salary, is an occasional policeman for the Kings, but he also takes a regular turn at left wing on a line with Vic Venasky and Don Kozak. "I'm 27 now and midway through my career," Schultz says, "so getting the chance to play full time is very important to me. In Philadelphia, I'd make a mistake and that would be it. I never played that regularly." And those 1,386 minutes he spent in penalty boxes didn't provide Schultz with very much skating room.
Nevertheless, it hardly looks as though Schultz will someday be a goal scorer like Dionne. "I know I'm not going to score 25 or 30 goals each year," he says. "I did score 20 goals for the Flyers in 1973-74, and I proved something then. But hockey games are won in the corners. Look at the Islanders, the Flyers and the Bruins. All their forwards go into the corners and hit. That's what I can do, like Bob Nystrom of the Islanders does or Terry O'Reilly of the Bruins. They've become good players because they've worked hard."
When Schultz arrived in L.A., Pulford placed him on a line with Dionne, obviously hoping Schultz would both protect the little right wing and get the puck to him from the corners. But that never worked out, and Pulford quickly separated them. "I came here so late," Schultz says, "that I never knew what they expected me to do. How much did they want me to fight, for instance? Now I'm starting to get the feel of things."
While Schultz now fits well with the Kings, Pulford was not ecstatic when owner Jack Kent Cooke acquired the Hammer in an attempt to boost sagging ticket sales. "No comment, he's on the team, that's all I know," Pulford said at the time.
Cooke, who has established residence in Las Vegas, has not seen his team play all season, but, to Pulford's displeasure, he phones in daily orders. This modus operandi has prompted rumors that Pulford will be coaching elsewhere next season—probably in Chicago or Toronto. Schultz, though, never wants to leave California. "People don't recognize me out here," he says, "but I had enough of that in Philadelphia. I'll take the weather of California and the chance to prove that Dave Schultz is really a hockey player, any day."