One of the reasons Dale Hunter scratched Roman Hamrlik for the Capitals’ game against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday was the veteran defenseman’s untimely penalties, the coach said. Hunter pointed specifically to the elbowing minor Hamrlik received early against Carolina on Feb. 20 that led to a goal against.
On Thursday, Hamrlik spoke for the first time about being scratched and said that Hunter did not speak to him about the decision. When informed that Hunter based some of it on his recent penalties, Hamrlik didn’t think it was sound logic.
“You should ask him about the penalties because when he played, I think he make lots of penalties himself. He should know better,” said Hamrlik, who has been called for three penalties in the past six games and ranks third on the team in minors with 15. “This is the game, guys go on emotion time. I know I take bad penalty, but if it’s the reason I didn’t play that’s his decision.”
Hamrlik was understandably frustrated that he was made to sit out of a contest, but the penalties weren’t the only thing Hunter cited when asked if the veteran blueliner would be back in the lineup during back-to-back games this weekend.
Hunter said that according to the coaching staff’s tally of scoring chances the Capitals allow, the 37-year-old Hamrlik has been on the ice for more than his fair share of them.
“He’s backing in way too much, letting the wave come through and they’re hitting the second tier,” Hunter explained. “He’s making a few mistakes. Video, sitting out, it’s a humbling experiencing. We’ve all went through it…you’ve just got to go to practice and work hard like he did today and watch video and learn from it.”
In the past 10 games he appeared in, Hamrlik was on the ice for six of the 24 goals the Capitals allowed, and since Hunter arrived in late November he has a plus-11 rating. Hamrlik said that it’s taxing on him to know that any mistake might land him in the pressbox.
“It’s not fun time, you know, especially when you’re older, you want to enjoy; you want to have fun,” Hamrlik said. “But it’s difficult time to play hockey when you know, you go to the game if you’re gonna make mistake [then] you’re not gonna play. It’s not easy. It’s real difficult on your body and your mind.”
According to a report from French-language news outlet RDS earlier this week, the Capitals are actively shopping Hamrlik. Asked about the rumors and possibility of leaving Washington, Hamrlik said he doesn’t focus on it.
“Hope I stay here and make the team a lot better on the defense and hope we make the playoffs and stay here,” Hamrlik said. “I don’t have reason to leave.”