We all knew the NHL lockout would create some serious friction between the league’s owners and players.
Now, the two-month-old work stoppage is dividing locker rooms – in particular the one in Washington.
Earlier this week Caps 38-year-old defenseman Roman Hamrlik told iSport.cz that he was “disgusted” with the way negotiations have been handled by union chief Don Fehr.
“We have to push Fehr to the wall to get the deal,” Hamrlik said. “Time is against us.
“We lost [one quarter of the] season, [about] $425 million. Who will give it back to us? Mr. Fehr? There should be voting between players for questions – YES or NO – then count it. If half of players say let’s play, then they should sign new CBA. If there is no season [Fehr] should leave and we will find someone new. Time is our enemy.”
It marked the first time a player has publicly questioned the leadership of Fehr and when fellow Czech Michal Neuvirth “100 percent” agreed with Hamrlik -- telling TVA Nova Sport, “This lockout is not about majority of players, I think. It is about several superstars with big contracts,” -- it rubbed Troy Brouwer the wrong way.
“How am I going to trust them as a teammate now?” Troy Brouwer told the Washington Post. “…It’s going to be tough to want to back those guys from now on.”
Brouwer isn't the only NHL player upset with Hamrlik's comments. Dallas Stars forward Ray Whitney questioned Hamrlik's decision to speak out against Fehr when he's sitting at home in the Czech Republic.
"Obviously he’s frustrated, but I don’t think it’s fair for him to be making those comments from the other side of the ocean," Whitney told ESPN.com. "He should be over here in the meetings if he wants to know what’s really happening.
"But I also know you’d hear comments like that from the other side too, from owners, if it wasn’t for the gag order. They’re equally frustrated. It’s frustrating for everybody."
It should be noted that Brouwer is the Capitals’ alternate player representative for the NHLPA and has been a staunch supporter of Fehr and the union’s stance against taking paycuts in a new CBA.
Brouwer also sits directly across from Hamrlik in the Capitals’ locker room at Kettler Capitals Complex.
Their first exchange as reunited teammates should be an interesting one. So too will be the relationship between Neuvirth and goaltender Braden Holtby, whose stalls are positioned beside one another. Remember, it was Neuvrth who told a Czech newspaper that Holtby was his "weakest competition” since arriving in Washington.
Whenever this lockout ends, Capitals coach Adam Oates may need to pass out olive branches on the first day of training camp.