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Fehr on Hamrlik: 'We don't believe in censoring'

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Fehr on Hamrlik: 'We don't believe in censoring'

One day after seeing the NHL cancel games through Dec. 14, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr was in Atlantic City Saturday night, briefing 25 NHL players before a charity game for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

In a pre-game scrum with reporters at Caesar’s hotel, Fehr said he had not spoken with Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who earlier in the week said he was “disgusted” with the lack of progress with CBA talks and that Fehr should be replaced if the 2012-13 season is canceled.

“Democracy can be a bit of a messy process sometimes,” Fehr told reporters. “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.”

According to Capitals teammate and alternate player rep Troy Brouwer, Hamrlik has not attended any NHLPA meetings or taken part in any conference calls during the 70-day work stoppage.

Fehr said it’s not uncommon for players to voice their displeasure during a work stoppage.

“Sometimes it’s what they mean,” he said. “Sometimes people get angry and frustrated and they vent. 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.”

Fehr said he, too, has been frustrated by the lack of progress in talks for a new CBA, especially after the union proposed an immediate 50-50 split in revenue but refused to accept the NHL’s restrictive measures on contracting rights.

The owners want to push back unrestricted free agency from age 27 or seven years of NHL service to 28 or eight years of service, reduce entry-level contracts from three to two years and place a five-year maximum on all future contracts.

The two sides are also $182 million apart on the NHL’s “make whole” provision but some believe the players would meet the NHL in the middle on that figure if they can keep their contractual rights.

With no negotiations planned, Fehr was asked if the two sides are any closer to ending the lockout.

“When we made our proposal on Wednesday, I thought the answer would be, ‘yes,’ but we didn’t get a response that suggested we are,” Fehr said.
 
“When you make a move towards them, if you’re going to have an agreement, somebody has to say, ‘yes,’ and ‘Now I can do this.’ Instead, they said, ‘yes,’ and ‘What else can you do for me?’”
 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

It's almost here.

After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

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