Photo credit: Joel Auerbach

When we last left Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, he was calling Braden Holtby his weakest competition and patting himself on the back for convincing Tomas Vokoun to go to Pittsburgh. That was just the warm-up.

In the remainder of Neuvirth’s interview with František Suchan of iSportz.Cz, the Czech goalie shares his honest opinion of pretty much every other big-name Capitals figure. He gives Alex Semin the classic “he could have been the best player in the world, but he doesn’t want to” line; he laments Alex Ovechkin‘s decline but praises his leadership; and he sheds no tears over the exit of Dale Hunter.

Hoo boy, here comes some tawdry stuff.

UPDATE: Read our statement on interpretation and translation.

From iSportz.Cz:

Another big star left the Caps – Alex Semin. Some say it will help the club, some say it won’t. What do you think?

Something in between. I see the leaving of Semin as a huge minus for the team, but then again I think it may do some good. He didn’t have the best work ethic. Maybe now when Ovi will be without him, he will put more into hockey. Maybe that’s what the management was going for.

Matt Bradley said things about Semin’s work ethic as well, and he had to apologize…

But I think it’s nothing that isn’t well known. If Semin wanted to, he could have been the best player in the world, but he doesn’t want to every day. And that’s wrong.

If he finds out what you said, you may expect to be hit in the head with the stick next time you play Carolina, don’t you think?

[Smiling] Yes, that could happen, we play Carolina pretty often.

On Ovechkin

He isn’t what he used to be, that’s for sure. And if a team like ours wants to have a chance at the Stanley Cup, we need Ovi to be the best. We all expect that from him; he has to be the real leader. But it’s hard you know, he achieved everything as a player. He was on the absolute top, and then one can only fall down. I just hope that Ovi will stop falling and instead stops and maybe tries to get back on top. As for his attitude in the lockerroom, he is still the same guy. Even when it’s not working out for him, he is in a good mood, he celebrates with the others. He is the right team player. He will stay like that forever.

On Adam Oates

I haven’t met him in person yet, but I spoke with him over the phone and felt good about it. He is definitely a legend of Washington hockey, plus he was an assistant in New Jersey, against which I’ve always played pretty good, so I think he is positive about me. With a new coach, it’s a new beginning and I am happy about Oates. Also because it means Dale Hunter isn’t staying.

Your teammate Roman Hamrlík wasn’t happy about Hunter either. What didn’t you like about him?

If only because Holtby was number one under him in playoffs. Generally, I didn’t find a way to him. I had good relationships with [Bruce Boudreau] and with the farm-team coach Bob Woods, but not with Hunter. I don’t know, he simply didn’t talk to us goalies at all, I think he criticized us sometimes for no reason. From my point of view, it’s good he left.

I’m not so sure Neuvirth was aware that his words would reach North America, but he we are.

We’ve heard Dale Hunter characterized as aloof and uncommunicative before, but never with this fine a point on it. The Semin allegation– on the other hand– is so widespread, it’s now officially cliché. But it’s heartening to hear Neuvirth (who has had a pretty rough go of it in the last two years) so motivated for next season under the leadership of Adam Oates and Alex Ovechkin.

So yay for finishing on a high note.

Infinite thanks to Karolina Martinková of for her translation. It’s Shake And Bake and Ian Oland helped!

  • if Semin hits Neuvy in the head with his stick for those comments, then he’s even more thin-skinned than we think he is. Those comments are not really that outrageous, or even that unfounded. Neuvy has every right to challenge for the No.1 goalie spot… and frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he out-played Holtby and got it. Holtby still is a little to loose playing the puck and could use a full-year experience as a backup before being considered the No. 1 goalie.

  • JGP

    It’s the Ovie comment that’s going to get all the attention. I think the assumption has been that the coaching style of latter-day Bruce and Dale was responsible for the decline, but Neuvy seems like he’s pinning it all on Ovie himself. There’s your headline.

  • Blah

    Sheesh, Neuvy. I’m feeling less and less positive about this upcoming season given everything that’s been going on in the off-season.

  • If the only reason Neuvy didn’t like Hunter was because Holtby was number one in the playoffs, I don’t know what to say. Except for game 1 in the NYR series, Holtby did a bang-up job for the Caps. Nobody expected the Caps to get out of the first round, but they did and were a few unlucky bounces from getting to the third. So Neuvy can take a flying leap.

    Nobody had a particularly good relationship with Hunter because he didn’t exactly communicate with his players much. So maybe Neuvy shouldn’t take this shit personally?
    The more Neuvy opens his fat mouth, the less I am liking him.

  • Mark

    All he is saying is that nobody can be on top forever. Don’t search for something that’s not there.

  • Beth K

    Are people serious being mad at Neuvy for these comments. He’s spot on about everything, he’s a young goalie who doesn’t feel like the coaches he has had has shown him the confidence he needs. When he does well, well that’s expected but when he falters a bit he’s suddenly cast aside for the next guy. He proved himself along Varly and management said Neuvy&Holtby #1 & #2 then they bring in Vokoun with no Caps history and no playoff experience and just because of his veteran status and numbers with Florida is told that Neuvy is going to be put behind him automatically. We saw what that meant Vokoun was garbage and was given more chances to fail consecutively but Neuvy. Was called on for one game and if he was subpar Vokoun was automatically put in next game.

    As far as Holtbys concerned yes he is responsible for beating Boston no doubt. But he didn’t accomplish any more then Neuvy or Varly. So I agree Holtbys is the weakest doesn’t mean he’s not good or could be #1 but Neuvy took us to the second round too and has played way more games then Holtby. Why can’t Neuvy get more starts and ease Holtby into the NHL, 25 or so starts for Holtby 50 or so for Neuvy it’s not unrealistic for Neuvy to think that should be the case.

    I don’t disagree with anything Neuvy said he’s not unreasonable for saying it, and Dale Hunter was a horrible player’s coach

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  • Hale

    I still really don’t get this stuff about Semin “not wanting to.” It’s projection! How does Neuvy know Semin doesn’t want to play well every day? What is the evidence? If it’s having bad games, then the same thing can be said about Neuvy or any player. Neuvy, he could have been the best goalie in the world, but just didn’t want it every day or he would have played better in all of those games when he played like crap, and he would have won the starting job. Who was it who said Neuvy was “despised” in the locker room? Ha! He might be now.

  • sonagain

    I agree that his comments about Semin sound like he is
    parroting others. Sounds like he doesn’t
    really know Semin so he just rehashes the “narrative” about him. The players who actually got to know Semin
    (Alzner, Carlson, Laich, Ward, etc.) have never said those things about
    Semin. It just shows that it is good for
    Semin to get away from this team. Too
    many players who are spiteful and vindictive.
    I don’t think I’ve seen another team where players trash their own so
    much. I don’t think it is a good
    environment. It’s interesting that Semin
    seems to be the only one not trashing the team and its players. And I don’t expect him to. He is way too classy for that. Neuvy trashing Holtby is especially unfortunate
    since they will have to play together next season (if there is a next
    season). This sort of “honesty” voiced
    to the media speaks of a hidden agenda and is likely to result in a toxic
    locker room. Now that Semin has a chance
    to shine in a hopefully less toxic environment, is Neuvy the next

  • yoon

    It’s nice to hear a player speak honestly instead of sugarcoating every aspect of the interview

  • Al Jensen

    Wow, now I just think Neuvy’s a jerk. I thought they get media training so they don’t say these sorts of things publicly. While we’re all bored of the usual player talking points, in any workplace, you don’t publicly call out your colleagues. He’s just being selfish and arrogant. And it’s not like he’s an allstar either. You just lost me as a fan, Neuvy.

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  • JGP

    No, I agree with you. I just meant that it’s a different take that I think people will seize on and blow up. Mostly because it’s August and there’s a likely lockout and no real news.

  • Leave it to people to search for meanings that aren’t there…..

  • hmm, Is Neuvy hintting McPhee he wants a trade?

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  • Again – completely honest. Completely true. Completely factual. No problems with anything Neuvy said.

  • sjshanno

    Well, Neuvirth is either going to be a team leader now or be gone. Strong and candid words like that come from a leader or a whiner. We’ll find out.

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  • jccmz

    Saying that Neuvirth “trashed” his team and players is a complete exaggeration and a mischaracterization. He did not “trash” Holtby — he said, based on career accomplishments, Holtby has done the least compared to the other goalies Neuvy has had to compete with (ie, all-star Vokoun and higher-drafted Varlamov). Are you seriously saying there is a “hidden agenda” for Neuvy not doing the cliched boring Canadian hockey player act in an interview? Also, you are not in the locker room and have no standing to predict a “toxic locker room.” I don’t mean to criticize your comment, but you seem to miss a lot of the nuance of Neuvy’s statements and have severely overreacted in a lot of what you say.

  • jccmz

    Peter Hassett’s intro is why bloggers get a reputation for irresponsible journalism and sensationalism. Any educated person knows that translating comments made in a different culture (ie, “weakest competition”) and taking it literally is a cheap, sensationalistic tactic. It is also lame for Hassett to use the word “tawdry” to characterize Neuvirth’s frank comments. Get a dictionary and look up that word.

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  • I’m sorry, but what other meaning can words “weakest competition” have in any other culture? I’m from Russia. Words “weakest competition” mean “weakest competition” here. And, I’m sure, in French, German, Czech or any other language.

  • MrBill

    “… then he’s even more thin-skinned than we think he is.” Who is “we”? I certainly don’t feel that way towards Semin, If anything, this guy has shown more class and refrain than any other player in this team.
    One thing i agree with Neuvirth is that losing Semin is a big minus for this team.

  • psps23

    “With a new coach, it’s a new beginning and I am happy about Oates. Also because it means Dale Hunter isn’t staying.”

    “Your teammate Roman Hamrlík wasn’t happy about Hunter either. What didn’t you like about him?”

    “If only because Holtby was number one under him in playoffs.”


    Yep, sounds like a stand up guy, that Neuvirth. A teammate gets your starting spot (and absolutely deserved to retain it after undeniably outplaying you) and you think the coach should go.

    That’s the type of guy I want on my team.

  • Pete

    What an idiot. Another reason why the Crap$ wont win jack shit this year

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  • Георгий Омариев

    Holt eats y at dinner

  • ranndino

    Good to see you’re a big fan of corpspeak.

  • ranndino

    Maybe Hunter should’ve been gone for taking a team that had the expectations of going deep into the playoffs and maybe even winning the Cup and turning it into a team that barely made the playoffs and no expected to get out of the first round, eh?

  • ranndino

    How is Semin thin skinned? He’s been singled out for unfair criticism (detailed stats bear this out very well) for years and has never even bothered to respond. Sounds like a very thick skinned guy to me. Not re-signing him was a big mistake. Who is gonna score goals now? 4th line grinders that all of you are so in love with?

  • ranndino

    Just an FYI. My girlfriend is Czech. She says there is no problem with the translation.

  • I can respect your position except for the part about Holtby outplaying him. As far as I could tell, Neuvy would have been the man if Sturm hadn’t fallen on his leg. So I can’t say that Holtby outplayed Neuvy because that implies a head to head competition and there was none. Holtby was the goalie during the playoffs by default. Otherwise it would have been Neuvy backing him up against Boston and not Dany Sabourin. Still, I was ecstatic with Holtby’s performance and could not agree more with the choice to keep him in goal during the playoffs even after Neuvy recovered because a) he had the hot hand and b) there was no upside to putting Neuvy in. If he lost a game, the game would be lost and Holtby’s confidence would have taken a shot from being pulled in favor of Neuvy and that would have been the series. But if I were a hockey player, I would hope that I would be competitive enough to do whatever I could to play the most games possible, and I would hope to have the correct feelings, including being happy about not having to deal with a coach that didn’t give me any confidence for most of the season. His feelings are his feelings and you can’t say he’s wrong: Neuvy never felt supported by Hunter and it got worse when Hunter called Holtby up to start instead of Neuvy against the Sharks in February after which Holtby proceeded to get smacked around for 5 goals – some pretty soft if memory serves. If I were him, I’d want a different coach, too, if that’s what I thought would help me to be successful in this league.