Peter said it best a few weeks ago. RMNB has zero interest in covering the actual lockout. “Financial negotiations (and their public face) are all about posturing, tedium, and equivocation,” he said. “Whereas our principal interest in hockey has always been scoar, moar, and goals.” We have gone to great lengths to cover hockey and try to make things fun as possible while patiently waiting for the NHL to end the madness.
But now that Washington Capitals players are bickering with each other through the media, we feel compelled.
On Wednesday, 38-year-old Roman Hamrlik said he was understandably pissed off about the lockout. “I am disgusted,” the bearded dinosaur said in an interview with isport.cz, later translated by Roman Jedlicka. “We have to push Fehr to the wall to get the deal. Time is against us. We lost one-fourth of the season; it is $425 million. Who will give it back to us? Mr. Fehr?”
Hamrlik went on to suggest that the NHLPA should put the NHL’s latest offer up and vote on it collectively as a group. With over 700 players in the membership, and each one having his own opinion and agenda, Hamrlik’s idea is reasonable. Are the players aligned with Donald Fehr and his recommendations or do they just want to get back on the ice?
The next day, the not-at-all-controversial Michal Neuvirth backed-up his homie-from-the-same-country, telling Jedlicka that,”this lockout is not about majority of players, I think. It is about several superstars with big contracts.” Neuvy, a low-salaried player who has a lot to lose with the NHL’s current offer, is talking nonsense, but he is entitled to his own opinion.
Then on Friday, Troy Brouwer, one of the Capitals representatives for the Players Association, responded to the Czechs’ comments. In an interview with Katie Carrera of The Washington Post, the guy that George McPhee has called a leader 6756 times since trading for him two summers ago, called his teammates “selfish” and doubted if he could trust them moving forward.
“Those are two guys that have never been on a conference call, never been to a meeting, never paid attention,” Brouwer told The Post in a telephone interview Thursday. “People are going to have their own opinions but when you’re fighting for something with 700 other guys, all you’re doing is just making it harder to make a deal and making it harder to accomplish the things we’re fighting for.”
Brouwer, who sported the A for a bunch of games last year, said “it’s going to be tough to want to back those guys from now on,” which is ludicrous. Hockey tactics and financial negotiations should be completely unrelated. For example, guess which one we don’t really care about here.
And in what world are comments like these productive? Last year, the Capitals were dysfunctional, requiring a coaching change and barely scraping their way into the playoffs. All that struggle could have built solidarity and camaraderie, instead, the players are slinging venom at each other through the press. The best move Brouwer could have made as a leader would have been to refuse the interview or at least decline to publicly humiliate his once and future teammates.
Karl Alzner, who captained the 2008 gold-medal winning WJC Canadian team, took a more diplomatic approach to his teammates’ comments. In an interview with The Calgary Herald’s Scott Cruickshank, Alzner showed actual leadership in saying he’d address their statements only behind closed doors.
“The first thought that came into my head is knowing Roman and knowing what he’s like,” Alzner says of his Caps teammate. “I just had to laugh. Roman’s the kind of guy that just takes it as it comes. He says what’s on his mind. Whether he thinks it through all the time is another story. He just says it. If he doesn’t like practice, he lets you know. If he doesn’t like what you did in the game, he lets you know. I think it’s just frustration setting in.”
Alzner has the level head. He’s stemming an ugly story that a more bombastic answer would have kept going.
I believe that good team chemistry is essential to winning a championship. Guys who love playing together can achieve great things, but the Capitals seem miles away from that right now. For example, if your hockey drama and backbiting winds up in the Latinos Post, the story may have gotten away from you.
While many of these players are going through their first lockout, Roman Hamrlik’s going through his third. He’s personally lost millions in wages. As a 20-year veteran of the league, he’s earned his right to complain and be frustrated at a process that is clearly flawed. If the players don’t want other players speaking out, they should impose fines like the NHL does with its owners. Why do you think we haven’t heard Uncle Ted chime in?
And honestly, has anything Ovechkin, Crosby, or Kovalchuk said actually helped the situation? Not hardly.
Next time, Troy should think carefully before he speaks ill of his teammates. The NHLPA has no way to keep its constituents from speaking to the press and sharing their own views, but just because those opinions vary doesn’t excuse the wanton disrespect Brouwer showed. This isn’t politics –where inane antagonism is expected, it’s hockey, and these guys are supposed to be on the same team.