The climate in the Washington Capitals dressing room has been a hot topic of speculation for the past couple of seasons. Pundits and fans alike were quick to call the Capitals culture into question following 2010′s playoff upset at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens and last spring’s no show against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Many wondered if Bruce Boudreau was the right man to coach this group of highly skilled players into the promise land, and others openly questioned whether the team was too easy on its stars.
Former Capitals winger Matt Bradley pulled no punches in speaking with Ottawa’s Team 1200 (audio here) on Wednesday about his time in Washington and atmosphere in the dressing room. The interview is a bit of a choppy mess, Bradley gets cut off a couple of times, but it’s worth a listen for Bradley’s comments on his former club and teammates.
Here’s what Bradley had to say when asked about the Capitals’ failure to advance past the second round versus Tampa:
“You know, I don’t have a definite answer. I mean, there’s reasons why. We had some guys who didn’t show up in the playoffs, and I’ll leave them unnamed. I think our locker room was maybe a little bit too nonchalant, and guys weren’t disciplined the way they should have been. Those two things are big things.”
Bradley was asked to comment on discipline troubles without naming names:
“It wasn’t like guys were going out the night before a game or stuff like that, but not being ready to practice or missing practice with questionable injuries.”
From there he threw Alex Semin under the bus:
“I don’t mind saying Alexander Semin’s name, because he’s one guy who has so much talent, he could easily be the best player in the league, and just for whatever reason, just doesn’t care.
You almost get the sense . . . he wants to be back in Russia.”
On Ovechkin’s maturity and desire to win:
“I never worry about Ovi. He’s an all-in guy. He’s young, he makes his mistakes, the same as anyone would. I often try to put myself in his position. And you’ve got to remember, he’s 25 years old, he’s got a guaranteed $120 million, he’s on top of the world, and he still for the most part makes the right decisions. I don’t worry about him, I don’t worry about most of the guys on that team. That’s why I think in the end they’ll do well.
“Ovi has some growing up to do as far as taking care of himself and things like that, but as far as his want to win, he really does just want to win the games, and he doesn’t care if he scores or not. That isn’t an act. He’s a great guy, great player. I’d never say anything bad about him.”
We’re not going to call these revelations surprising, but it is somewhat rare to hear a player open up this way about his former team. The Semin comments should be particularly worrisome for Caps fans, as Bradley essentially confirms what so many have speculated about his approach to the game.
Bradley spent the last six seasons with the Capitals. He signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers this summer, we shall see if any of his former Capitals teammates take exception to his comments when the two teams meet on October 18th in Washington.
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