Matt Bradley spent six seasons with the Washington Capitals and was considered one of the top so-called “character” guys in the locker room. His laid-back attitude with teammates and up-front nature with members of the media made him popular behind the scenes, while his toughness on the ice ingratiated him to fans.
After the Caps did not make an offer to keep him around (according to agent Larry Kelly), he left and signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers. But Wednesday, Bradley created something of a minor August controversy with comments about his former team and Alexander Semin.
In a radio interview on Team 1200 in Ottawa, hosts asked Bradley if he could explain what has happened to the Caps in the playoffs in recent years, and he pointed to ice time being disproportional to production.
“I think we had some guys that didn’t show up in playoffs, and I’ll leave them unnamed. I think our locker room was maybe a little too nonchalant and guys weren’t disciplined the way they should’ve been,” Bradley said. “Those two things are big things, and I’d say that’s about it because I think I heard you guys saying we had a lot of guys that played hard and played well and it seemed that sometimes the guys that weren’t playing well were the ones getting rewarded with ice time.
“Which In the playoffs I don’t think it matters who you are — it’s who’s playing well for you at the time. That’s not always what happened with our team — it wasn’t the guys that were playing well at the time, it was the guys that were our best players for the most part that were playing no matter what.”
Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports asked Bruce Boudreau about those comments. His response was: “Oh yeah? Oh well … it’s his opinion.”
The next question in the radio interview with Bradley was about discipline issues. Even though one of the hosts said Bradley did not have to name names, the tough guy brought up Semin.
“… I don’t mind saying a guy like Alexander Semin’s name because he’s one guy who has so much talent he could easily be the best player in the league and just for whatever reason just doesn’t care,” Bradley said. “When you get a guy like that, you need him to be one of your best players, and when he doesn’t show up, you almost get the sense like he wants to be back in Russia. That’s tough to win when you got a guy like that who’s supposed to be your best player not being one of your best players.”
Semin’s agent, Mark Gandler, took offense to the comments as untrue.
“I can only tell you it’s not true, it’s as simple as that,” Gandler told The Washington Times in a phone interview. “He’s not privy to our private conversations. Alex cares a lot about his teammates and the game.”
There’s a sense among fans that this is not new information, underscoring a public perception of Semin as a player who doesn’t give full effort. Asked specifically about that, Gandler pointed to production.
“From my perspective, I just care about results. If the results are there, I don’t care about perception. The results speak for themselves,” he said. “When he doesn’t have as good a year as we want him to have, sure. You want to have a better year. As far as caring and giving an effort, it’s just a perception and it’s not true.”
Bradley’s agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Semin had 28 goals and 26 assists last season, and over his regular-season career he has averaged 0.90 points per game. During his playoff career, the Russian winger has 30 points in 37 games. In the past two playoffs he has scored four goals in 16 games.