When Roman Hamrlik says he just wants to play, it’s hard to doubt his sincerity. Clearly the 38-year-old Capitals defenseman isn’t just repeating the NHLPA’s mantra as part of a PR strategy, otherwise he wouldn’t have questioned Donald Fehr’s leadership on Wednesday.
Today, Hamrlik clarified his controversial remarks. And while he didn’t feel the need to take anything back, he did say he’ll support whatever his union brethren decide to do.
“This is nothing against any of the players,” Hamrlik told the Globe and Mail. “I stand with them. We are all together in this. And we want a great deal. A fair deal. Everybody’s losing in this right now. Owners, players, fans.
“The fans are the reason for hockey. Some cities won’t be able to recover their fans for future seasons. I just want to say I’ve been in the league for 20 years and faced three lockouts and there’s only 14 other guys that have done that. I believe I’ve earned the right to say what I think.
“If someone thinks I’m selfish. I may be, but it’s selfish to play hockey. Like everybody else, I want to win the Cup with the Capitals, or at least have a chance.”
Despite appearing in 1,379 regular-season games, Hamrlik has yet to win a Stanley Cup. So given this season could be his last chance, his frustration is understandable.
Of course, so too is the frustration of the players after hearing Hamrlik’s remarks. The “we want to play” slogan may be part of an orchestrated PR campaign, but it’s also the truth. And from the union’s perspective, there’s a right way to get back on the ice (by negotiating a fair deal) and a wrong way (by surrendering to the owners).