By the time Eric Fehr was traded, we all sort of knew that someone’s salary needed to get off the books, and we all sort of figured Fehr was a prime candidate. So I can’t say I felt surprised in any way when Fehr was actually traded. Fehr, though, is still saying the deal to Winnipeg caught him unawares.
“It was actually a shock to me,” he told Toronto’s 590 The Fan on Tuesday. “I didn’t really know I was really being shopped around or anything like that. I just got a call from the Caps GM George McPhee, one day, and he told me I had been dealt, and he told me I’d been dealt to Winnipeg.
“Obviously I was sad when I heard I was being traded — I have a lot of friends in Washington and I’ve been there a lot of years and I really enjoyed my time there. But when he said Winnipeg ,that made it feel better pretty quick. This was just something that I think they ran out of room under the salary cap in Washington, and then some players were gonna get squeezed out and I was one of them. It’s not like I was specifically saying I wanted to come to Winnipeg or whether I wanted to be moved at all. It was just something that they felt needed to be done, and it ended up working out for me.”
Fehr praised Alex Ovechkin at length, calling him “a great leader” who is “really well liked” inside the Caps dressing room, but he had a telling response when asked about the team’s defensive shift last season.
“They were definitely trying to buy in,” he said of his teammates. “I know for the Russian players, defense is not always the first thing on their mind, but it was definitely something we worked on last year, and I think it showed in the goals-against that the team had. It’s definitely a different style of play for those guys.”
Fehr was also asked how Bruce Boudreau had changed during the move from Hershey to the big time.
“He definitely had to change his style a little bit in the National Hockey League, coaching these real high-end players, high-end talents,” Fehr said. “It’s a bit of a different approach, I think. He changed the way he coached a little bit moving up to the higher level.”
“[NHL players] definitely have to like you, I think that’s one of the main things. And you want to try to make it so the players are wanting to play for you, so it’s really a fine line between making sure they’re working their hardest and trying to keep them happy. It’s probably one of the most difficult jobs in the world, I think, to work with some of these star players.”