Blog Entry

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:05 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:26 pm
Hamrlik has been statistically much better with Hunter than Boudreau. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Washington Capitals are imploding right before our very eyes. It's getting downright nasty in the nation's capital.

The most recent -- but check back in an hour -- development in How the Capitals Turn concerns veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik. On the same day that rumors started to spread that he was on the trading block, coach Dale Hunter had Hamrlik as a healthy scratch in the team's 5-2 loss to the Senators on Wednesday night.

Before the game Hunter gave his reasoning to the Capitals media, explaining why Hamrlik was joining them in the press box.

"We need him playing better defensively," Hunter said. "He's a defensive defenseman and the way we mark scoring chances [against] he's been involved in too many of them. That's why he was sitting out and that's why [Jeff] Schultz was sitting out before him.

"[Hamrlik] is backing in way too much. He's letting [forwards] come through and they're hitting the second tier. Sitting out is a humbling experience. We all went through it. If you played hockey or any sport you sat out. You've just got to go to practice and work hard like he did today. Watch video and learn from it and when you get the chance play well."

Hamrlik was asked about the words of the coach and the scratch after the team's skate on Thursday and, well, he wasn't very coy. Quotes courtesy of Sky Kerstein of 106.7 the Fan in D.C.

Hamrlik said he hasn't talked to Hunter on why he didn't play, asked why he might not of been in "I don't know, you should ask him. You should ask him [Hunter] about the penalties because when he played I think he [Hunter] make lots of penalties in himself so he should know better.

"I know I take bad penalty, but if that's reason I didn't play, but it's his decision"

Well then. I'm not sure how exactly that compares to Alex Ovechkin's infamous words behind Bruce Boudreau's back earlier this season that many think played a massive role in Boudreau's dismissal, but a player almost challenging a coach publicly? Gee, if Boudreau lost control of the locker room, what does that say for Hunter?

As for the trade rumors, Hamrlik shot down any notion that he wanted out. From CSN Washington:

"Nothing I can do about it. I'm happy to be here and do my job. I don't have control over that. I hope I stay here and make the team better and help them make the playoffs. I don't have reason to leave."

Adding to the drama was Hunter's frank assessment of the play of Tomas Vokoun, who was pulled for the second consecutive game in favor of Michal Neuvirth.

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“Tomas would like a few of them back. He wasn’t as sharp as he should’ve been and it was in the back of our net,” the Caps’ coach said. “We were playing well and it’s one of these things where you get deflated. ... We outchanced them, but we need our goaltending better and Tomas wasn’t sharp tonight.

“Just can’t get off to a bad start like that. If somebody’s not playing as well as they should, you have to block more shots and cover up for him more.”

Vokoun's agent Allen Walsh, never shy to stick up for his clients, added a little to the drama in an oh-so-subtle way.

“I’m not going to comment directly on what someone may have said after a game,” Walsh said in a text message to the Washington Times. “I will point out though that hockey’s great coaches throughout history never resorted to publicly singling out a particular player, blaming him for a loss. Where I come from, you win as a team and lose as a team. The oldest, most tired excuse in the book is to blame the goalie.”

But Vokoun didn't add fuel to any fire, saying it's not personal and he'd prefer too that his stats were better.

On top of all of this, Alex Ovechkin is day to day with a lower-body injury and didn't suit up on Wednesday in Ottawa.

When the Caps hired Hunter to replace Boudreau earlier this season it wasn't perfectly clear but it sure sounded like it was for the rest of the season and then they'd go from there. Neither the coach or the franchise knew how the fit would go. It's kind of safe to assume now that Hunter's odds of returning to the OHL London Knights are going up by the day.

By the way, the Caps are still only two points out of the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Thanks, Southeast Division.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Since: Dec 12, 2009
Posted on: May 10, 2012 1:22 am

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

...I think it's safe to say the team has bought into his Laughing

Great hire in my opinion...

Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:58 pm

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

George McPhee should not only be fired, he should be taken to a psychiatric hospital for observation. He spends 4 years putting together a collection of high scorers and all of a sudden he demands that his head coach change his style of coaching and start playing defense 1st, last and everything in between. Forget about the fact that you do not have the players to play that style, just do it. He goes out and gets an old goalie and sends his future goalie to the minors. He brings in a defenseman tha has been finished for 2 years already. He brings in a guy who has had exactly ONE good playoff run and can't play a lick of defense. So of course, the team shut Bruce out and he got fired. Then this moron brings in a minor league coach with no clue how to coach in the NHL and instead of going back to the style that got them all those wins over the last 4 years, he tells the coach to hammer the team and make fools out of them, which he has succeded in. Now they have lost the entire team.

Ted Leonis is a more fan friendly version of Daniel Snyder. He loves his fans but has no clue about owning a basketball of hockey franchise. Now, he is in a position that if he does not fire both of his GM's and head coaches, he is going to lose his entire fam base and there will be more fans going to the Verizon Center for the WWE that there will be for any of his professional sports teams.

Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:31 pm

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

Hunter was in over his head when he took over.   Doesn't seem like it's working well.    Maybe he can trade for the Kostitsyns so that's there's less drama with European players in Washington.

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:21 pm

Just trade OV already

Blow up the whole team and start over.  These clowns haven't made it past the second round of the playoffs in the entire OV era.

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:09 pm

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

Looks like Dale Hunter isn't the answer in Washington.  He can't get control of the team.  So I see a new coach in Washington next season and the first thing the new coach will do is Put an "A" on Ovie's chest and put the "C" somewhere else.

Since: Mar 8, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2012 4:57 pm

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

Hamrlik's agent needs to STFU. The coach isn't allowed to say that the Goalie would probably like to have back a couple of the goals he let in. He didn't blame Vokoun, he said he has to play better. To much whining in sports these days.

Since: Jan 25, 2011
Posted on: February 23, 2012 4:47 pm

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

Seems like this team has bad chemistry.  Maybe it is time to give the "C" to somebody based more on leadership than scoring ability and superstar status.

Since: Dec 12, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:18 pm

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

...Dale needs to dress for practice.....Put on the ole Jofa lid and needs to put on a show.....Start hacking guys when forechecking....Finish his check......Just play like he did when he played.....And if knowbody comes to his aid during hits he gets plastered on? Then make sure you make them know who the boss is by making those selfish types skate and not suite up for game time......

He is losing this team and needs to be the person he was hired to be.......

This guy has to stir the pot!!!

Since: Nov 1, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:04 pm

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

The Hunter hiring didn't seem like it made a lot of sense when it happened, and I'm not finding myself understanding any better as time goes by. I'm not a big follower of the Caps, but I know a thing or two about Dale Hunter's reputation.

The Capitals need to restore order, and that means the kind of big-name discipline coach that can't be questioned publicly. Someone with more or less the same attitude as Hunter, but with the W's to back it up....the Mike Keenan sort, I guess. There must be someone out there who can get wins out of a team with a few of the most talented guys in the NHL.

Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:45 pm

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

There is bad chemistry with this team. That much is clear. I don't think the problem was as simple as changing coaching philosophies. Many players got their way in the dressing room and it shows on the ice. Hunter's tough guy approach is clearly not working. I would simply define the leadership of this team and build around that. Anybody who doesn't fit the mold should be let go. Talent is one thing, teamwork and team chemistry is another and we aren't seeing either.

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