NHL Lockout 2012: Donald Fehr defends Roman Hamrlik's right to free speech

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. | Donald Fehr on Saturday night defended Roman Hamrlik and his ability to exercise free speech after the Washington Capitals defenseman criticized the NHL Players’ Association executive director and the lockout.

Hamrlik told Daily Sport in the Czech Republic that he was “disgusted” by the process and that Fehr should be replaced if the 2012-13 NHL season is canceled.

“Democracy can be a bit of a messy process sometimes,” Fehr said. “But if you believe in free speech and you don’t believe in censorship, and you believe everybody’s entitled to their opinion, they speak it. … We don’t believe in censoring anybody. We don’t believe in telling anybody they can’t come to meetings and see for themselves. We’re different than the owners.”

Fehr said he has not spoken to Hamrlik in “three of four weeks” but noted that members of the NHLPA staff have.

His goal in speaking to 25 players at Caesars in Atlantic City in advance of the Operation Hat Trick charity game was to invite everyone to meetings.

Fehr did not directly want to address what Hamrlik said, but he wanted to make sure concerns were addressed.

“Sometimes it’s what they mean; sometimes people get angry and frustrated and they vent,” Fehr said. “And then you talk to them, other players will talk to him from time to time, staff will talk to him and make sure you get the questions answered.”

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