Troy Brouwer chided Washington Capitals teammate Roman Hamrlik for his outspoken comments about the NHL Players’ Association and state of the lockout, while one agent criticized the veteran defenseman for his lack of involvement in the process.
Hamrlik told a news agency in his native Czech Republic that players should agree to a deal now because “time is our enemy.”
“Everybody wants to play,” Brouwer, the Caps’ alternate NHLPA representative, said in a phone interview. “You can’t be that selfish and just make comments as far as, ‘OK, I only have one year left on my deal, I don’t care what happens with the CBA because I’m not going to be a part of it anymore after this season.’ “
Caps goaltender Michal Neuvirth said he agreed with Hamrlik, also drawing scorn for his part in this.
“You would think that these guys would be smarter and realize if you do have an opinion or concern, do it on the conference call. Do it when you’re talking to guys in-house and not spreading these types of things,” Brouwer said. “Because these two guys, I’ve been on every single conference call, every single meeting that has been in my area. And I know who’s on them, who’s not, and I know these guys haven’t been a part of them. …
“It’s not a lack of information going around to players, it’s just negligence on their part to make sure that they’re not up to speed and not informed of what’s going on.”
One player agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, took issue with Hamrlik based on his lack of attention to the lockout process before making these comments.
“He’s a guy that has not participated in any conference calls from the very beginning of the process. He hasn’t bothered to attend any CBA meetings,” the agent said. “He hasn’t bothered to attend any NHLPA meetings. And he’s been saying from the beginning of the lockout that the players should be playing right away and take any deal they can just to play. He’s a 38-year-old player on the last year of a contract.”
Hamrlik’s agent, Peter Svoboda, has not spoken to his client since he made his comments to Daily Sport earlier in the week.
“It’s a pleasure to represent him. He addressed me several times that he was not happy what’s gone on with this CBA situation. I basically told him to talk to the NHL Players’ Association. It’s not the first time he’s gone through it. I know the guys are getting very frustrated nowadays,” Svoboda said. “I’ve known Roman for 20 years and he’s not a selfish individual. …
“They’re 30-year-old guys who’s gone through it several times. I don’t tell my guys what to eat, what to do. … I don’t know why the frustration. But Roman, he’s a great teammate. He’s been a loyal NHLer through every [lockout]. It’s very difficult for me to say anything right now because we don’t know much about his situation.”
Hamrlik contended that if 700-plus players took a vote right now, the majority would be in favor of taking a deal to get on the ice. He went through lockouts in 1994-95 and 2004-05.
“I think that’s why it’s most frustrating to be honest with you because he’s been through this three times before,” Brouwer said. “He should know the ramifications of what guys say, and so for him to come out and say this, in a position that he’s in, I understand that he probably wants to play as long as he can, but he was a guy who was lucky enough to be a first-round pick, never played a game in the American Hockey League, always had everything easy for him.”
There’s something to be said for Hamrlik’s veteran status making his comments stand out. But that he spoke out against the NHLPA’s directive did not sit well given that the 38-year-old is in the twilight of his career.
“He wants to make his money because he legitimately thinks this could be the last year of his career. He’s a guy that made already over $58 million over the course of his NHL career,” the agent said. “NHL players sacrificed for him in 1992, in 1994 and in 2004 so he could make that $58 million. And instead of showing his gratitude to the NHLPA and the sacrifices former players made for him, he’s motivated by his own self-interest.
“There’s always a few bad apples in a wise group that only care about themselves. His opinion is not shared by 99 percent of the other players.”
Brouwer agreed with that sentiment and contradicted Hamrlik’s statement that players are in favor of accepting what the owners put forth.
“We’ve had discussions about whether or not we want to accept their last proposal and it was overwhelmingly no. there was not one person that was on the conference call that wanted to accept the deal that they had put in front of us the last time,” Brouwer said. “Where these guys are making these assumptions, maybe it’s just them talking for themselves and not representing the PA, which is what the rest of us are trying to do because the deal that’s in front of us right now is something that’s going to hurt the association for years to come.
“It’s not going to be able to enable us to have any growth, any contracting rights, anything like that. As a PA we can’t accept that for ourselves or for future players going forth here.”