He finished 1988-89 in Washington, scoring eight goals in 48 games, but that wasn't good enough to crack the lineup of the revamped Capitals at the start of this season. Even when Druce was recalled from the Baltimore Skipjacks, he was usually cast as a fourth-line player, a defensive specialist whose job was to prevent goals, not score them. That's what makes Druce's playoff performance all the more stunning.
"He was not a top player in junior, not a top player in the minors," said Poile. "This is not only a good story today, but a good story for years to come."
"Everybody keeps asking me what's going on," said Druce, fingering a scraggly blond postseason beard that looks as if it could use a couple more playoff rounds of maturing. "You have to wonder if someone up top is looking down on me."
Well, his teammates looking at him see a player who is creating many of his own goal-scoring opportunities with his speed, strength and tenacity. Almost to a man, though, they say the biggest difference in Druce is his confidence. "When he first came here, he was a little bit scared to try to do too much," says Courtnall.
"John is the type of guy whose confidence level is extremely important," says Rob Murray. "He needs to be confident. Sometimes he gets down on himself."
Rest assured that if Druce's newfound scoring touch continues, lack of confidence will be the least of his concerns. Like most bona fide goal scorers, he will be concerned with congestion, both around the net and around his locker.