Mathieu Perreault clarified that he did not ask for a trade from the Washington Capitals on the day two French-language reports came out that included the center expressing discontent over his ice time.
“I didn’t ask for a trade. Obviously I like it here, been around for four years, all my chums are [here]. I don’t wanna go anywhere. All I want is a little bit more ice time and I talked to Adam Oates and George [McPhee] today about it,” Perreault said (listen to full audio here). “All I want is to play. I wanna be here. I don’t wanna go anywhere. If you guys read the article in French it doesn’t say that I asked for a trade. Never.”
Perreault complained about his role with the Caps in two separate interviews, one with Le Journal de Montreal and one with La Presse. In the stories, the 25-year-old center from Drummondville, Quebec, said he would not be patient with so little ice time for the next two years.
Perreault told La Presse that he did not know if he was in the team’s plans, but if he was not the Caps should trade him. With yet another coach in Oates, he said it was more of the same. Le Journal’s Jean-Francois Chaumont and La Presse’s Marc-Antoine Godin told Washington reporters the English translation of what Perreault said.
Perreault signed a two-year contract in July worth $2.1 million.
“I’m obviously not too happy. No one would be happy to be playing that much minutes,” Perreault said. “The headline says Perreault asks for a trade or something, but I never said I wanted to get traded. All I want is a little more minutes, that’s all.”
Perreault played 4:58 in Tuesday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets and 3:52 in Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Oates said he apologized to Perreault after a shift in the Tampa Bay game because he didn’t have a chance to play him more.
“I’m still learning my players they’re still learning me. I obviously want to get that guy more ice time and the other night was kind of no different,” Oates said. “We were behind so I wanted to get the other guys to produce before him. But he’s going to get his chance, and basically the point is, if you’ve got a beef no problem. Let’s just talk about it.”
That’s a stark difference from the Dale Hunter era, when players said the coach did not communicate with them about ice time, roles or being healthy scratches.
Oates said it was his “fault” that Perreault did not play more against the Jets.
“I think he’s a good player and I’m still learning him,” Oates said. “And the better he plays the more he’ll stand out and the more he’ll play.”
Perreault is listed at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds excelled last season while playing second-line center in Nicklas Backstrom’s absence. But with Wojtek Wolski here and Backstrom and Mike Ribeiro entrenched as the top two centers, Perreault is in a difficult spot.
“You also got to look at the guys in front of him. I can’t put him in front of Mike Ribeiro or Nick Backstrom,” Oates said. “So he’s gonna have to wait his turn and do the little things and keep improving his game. But if I can find minutes I will definitely do that.”
Perreault met with Oates and McPhee on Thursday morning to clear the air.
“They’ve heard about the article and want to know what was going on,” Perreault said. “I had a good talk with them and I’m looking forward for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. I’ve had some good games against them in the past, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Perreault had 16 goals (tied for fifth on the team with Brooks Laich) and 14 assists last season. He when he signed the two-year contract that he was promised a top-six role.
“It was a little bit. But there’s always things changes. They sign the other guys. I’m fine with a third and fourth-line role. Obviously I’m not happy with the amount of minute I get,” Perreault said. “I’d like to get a little bit more, which is normal. No one would want to play that kind of minutes. It’s early in the season, it’s only two games in, so I’m staying positive and looking forward for the next few games here.”
Perreault is expected to center the fourth line Thursday night against the Canadiens.
“I work hard every day in practice, in games. When I go out there I go a hundred percent,” he said. “Just waiting for a little bit more time and see what I can do with it.”