Reacting to Roman Hamrlik’s comments that he was “disgusted” by the Donald Fehr and the NHLPA’s handling of the NHL lockout, Washington Capitals teammate Karl Alzner stood up for free speech among players.
Alzner’s first reaction was to laugh.
“Oh, that’s just Roman. He’s always giving his opinion,” Alzner said in a phone interview Friday. “But, you know what, you can’t crucify a guy for saying what he thinks. You’ve got hundreds of other people, players, that don’t necessarily agree with him, and he’s going to get the backlash from it. But I don’t think you can worry about. It’s just his opinion.”
Hamrlik was quoted as telling Daily Sport in his native Czech Republic: “I am disgusted. We have to push Fehr to the wall to get the deal. Time is against us. We lost 1/4 season, it is 425M $. Who will give it back to us? Mr. Fehr? There should be voting between player. Four questions - YES or NO - then count it. If half of players say lets play, then they should sign new CBA. If there is no season he should leave and we will find someone new. Time is our enemy.”
Hamrlik is 38 years old and has one year left on a two-year, $7 million contract with the Caps. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth spoke out in support of the elder defenseman’s comments.
“I agree 100 percent with Hammer,” Neuvirth said, as quoted by TVA Nova Sport in the Czech Republic. “This lockout is not about majority of players, I think. It is about several superstars with big contracts.”
Ex-teammate Mike Knuble offered a metered approach along with Alzner when asked about what Hamrlik and Neuvirth had to say.
“Roman, he’s been a part of three lockouts, so obviously he’s got an opinion about it. He’s always a guy that kind of says what he thinks. It didn’t shock me to read that he was coming out with a statement like that,” Knuble said. “I think it’s only natural at this point, it’s been going on for three months or whatever, that some people are going to step out and voice their opinions. I think it’s pretty natural. You have 700 guys, you have 700 opinions.”