Troy Brouwer stepped into the locker room first and saw the children’s books sitting inside each stall, with the bulldozer on the front and a teammate’s name on the bottom.
“Ooh,” Brouwer said, reading the title. “The Bulliest Dozer.”
Alex Ovechkin, the captain of the Washington Capitals, picked up a copy and opened it. He flipped through the pages.
“Fehrsie’s writing children’s books now?” Ovechkin asked. Then he read a line from inside. “You’ll do it better next time, she promised.”
Slowly, as players trickled into the room Saturday morning, they all found the books and all had similar reactions.
“I don’t know if this is a joke or not,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said.
“You’re an author?” forward Jason Chimera said. “How much you get for this?”
“So he legit wrote this? Something must be off,” goaltender Braden Holtby asked forward Aaron Volpatti, and Volpatti replied, “Maybe there’s a different Eric Fehr.”
“What the hell is this?” defenseman Brooks Orpik said.
It was not a joke. It was the same Eric Fehr, a forward on the Capitals and now a published author of a children’s story about a bullying bulldozer. The idea came to him several years ago, first in the form of the title. Then he started working on story lines and finally partnered with Pamela Duncan Edwards, an author known for her alliteration whose titles include “Clara Caterpillar,” “Roar! A Noisy Counting Book” and “Some Smug Slug.”
Edwards helped Fehr flesh out his ideas, while Kate Komarnicki handled the illustrations. The finished product, full proceeds for which will go to U.S.and Canadian charities, will be available online, at Verizon Center and at the team’s practice facility for $10 starting Oct. 9, the day the Capitals open the regular season.
“It’s about a bulldozer, all machines going to school, who’s a bit of a bully at school,” Fehr said. “And he learns that it’s not what he wants to do at the end. Pretty good story line I think.”
And so Fehr entered a room where Chimera shouted about how aggressive the plot was, where Ovechkin brought it along as he left — maybe to the bathroom, no one was sure — and where Fehr knows he will probably get made fun of becoming a published author, even though that would mean maybe they didn’t learn some lessons from the bulliest dozer.
“The guys were showing they were able to read,” he said. “I was impressed. I think this will be perfect for them.”
Andre Burakovsky, 19 years old, entered the locker room last. He looked at the book, confused, then smiled as the realization dawned.
“Fehrsie?” he said from across the room. “Are you serious? Why are you writing a book?”
“So you can learn some life lessons,” Fehr replied. “You’re young enough. This probably applies to you.”