Sorry, ambulance chasers. Troy Brouwer and Roman Hamrlik did not drop the gloves at Friday’s informal workout at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
As you may recall, the two Capitals teammates had a verbal dust-up back in late November after Hamrlik questioned the tactics of NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and Brouwer skewered him in the media, accusing him of betrayal and wondering if he would ever be able to trust him as a teammate.
On Friday, Hamrlik arrived for his first practice with the Caps since the lockout ended and the two veterans hugged it out. Well, at least they didn’t get into a stick fight.
“I had a chance to play with him last year and he’s one of the best guys,” Hamrlik said of Brouwer. “We chatted on the phone [back in November] and there’s no problem. He’s my teammate and he would never say anything bad about anybody.”
Brower said he was more upset at the timing of Hamrlik’s remarks and what it might mean for negotiations between the owners and the players, who were at war with one another over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“We both know that words that were said back then,” Brouwer said. “He’s still my friend, he’s still my teammate. We came in, we had a good chat today. We were just angry because the comments were ill-timed and we thought it was going to set the process back quite a bit by making it seem like the union was segregated.
“It didn’t look like it mattered anyway. We still have to deal with each other on a day-to-day basis and right now there’s no ill feelings toward each other.”
Hamrlik, 38, is in the final year of a two-year, $7 million contract he signed with the Caps in 2011. And while some accused him of being selfish when he said that Fehr should be replaced if he could not come to an agreement, he said he was simply voicing his displeasure over the third work stoppage of his career.
Including the work stoppages in 1994-95 [36 games]; the 2004-05 lockout [82 games] and this lockout [34 games], Hamrlik has lost 152 games and millions of dollars in lost salary.
“I said what I had to say,” Hamrlik said. “It's past. I'm looking forward and there was so many different opinions on that. Everybody was frustrated. I think I was the most frustrated guy. I was going through my third lockout.
“There were different opinions, but we were on the same page and all together with this. It was a long, long fight, but for me, for an older guy, it was not so much about the money, but playing hockey because you never know if you're gonna get signed or what's gonna happen when you get older.”
At 38, Hamrlik realizes this could be the final year of his NHL career. He came into the league as the first pick of the 1992 NHL draft and in 20 seasons he has 155 goals and 482 assists in 1,379 games. Only 13 NHL defensemen have played more.
Hamrlik said he has not given much thought over whether this might be his final NHL season.
“I’ll just go game by game and see what happens,” he said. “But the possibility is there. I’m focusing on this season and we’ll see what happens in the summer.”
As for Brouwer, he said holding a grudge over something that was said two months ago would do more harm than good as the Caps prepare for what should be a 48-game sprint.
“You can’t let it affect you, especially with a shortened season right now,” Brouwer said. “You can’t hold grudges and you can’t have little high school grudge matches against each other.
“It’s in the past. We aren’t worried about it anymore and we’re looking forward. We’re excited about this season and we have to play on the same team and we like where our team is right now.”