Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth decided to spice up the offseason by speaking his mind on Alexander Semin, Alex Ovechkin, and Dale Hunter in an interview with a Czech website. Caps blog Russian Machine Never Breaks translated the story and boy did Neuvirth speak his mind.
“If Semin wanted to, he could have been the best player in the world, but he doesn’t want to every day. And that’s wrong.”
“He isn’t what he used to be, that’s for sure. And if a team like ours wants to have a chance in Stanley Cup, we need Ovi to be the best. We all expect that from him; he has to be the real leader. But it’s hard you know, he achieved everything as a player. He was on absolute top, and then one can only fall down. I just hope that Ovi will stop falling and instead stops and maybe tries to get back on top.”
“I don’t know, he simply didn’t talk to us goalies at all, I think he criticized us sometimes for no reason. From my point of view, it’s good he left.”
The stuff on Semin isn’t surprising since we’ve heard it already from Matt Bradley (and backed up by David Steckel). Getting an honest take like that on Ovechkin, however, should earn Neuvirth a few head-high slap shots in practice.
Neuvirth also said he’s looking forward to the Adam Oates era in Washington. Gee, I wouldn’t have guessed. Safe to say training camp, whenever that starts, should be interesting.
Former Capitals coach Dale Hunter spoke his mind recently discussing his departure from Washington to return to work with his junior hockey team in London, Ontario.
As he tells Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press, while he’ll miss coaching at the pro level he won’t miss the daily rigors of being an NHL bench boss, namely in dealing with the media.
“Every day it’s a scrum. You have to answer every question. Basically I don’t feel like I have to go to media and criticize players if they are not playing up to snuff. I do it one-on-one. Some coaches use it as a tool. Personally, when I was playing I preferred if a coach said to me ‘you’re playing like crap. You aren’t going to play as much unless you get better.’
“I put a top-line guy on the fourth line, then I had to answer all the questions. I use it as a motivator for some guys and then it’s all blown out of proportion. But (the media) was alright.”
That top line guy was Alexander Semin, of course, and now neither Hunter nor Semin will be with the Capitals this year.
Hunter did say he’ll miss the pressure that comes with coaching an NHL team. He also again explained his reasons for keeping Alex Ovechkin’s minutes down as well saying,”he’s not a defensive guy.”
How the Capitals do with Adam Oates in charge this season will make for a fascinating story as it seemed most of Washington warmed up to Hunter after his team’s surprising playoff run.
Going into this off-season, the San Jose Sharks wanted to get some NHL experience behind bench boss Todd McLellan. They’ve passed those tests with flying colors as they added veteran coach (and Hall of Famer) Larry Robinson as an “associate” coach and long-time NHL blueliner (and seasoned assistant) Jim Johnson to the mix as an assistant. Johnson is the most recent addition, as the Sharks named him to the staff tonight.
(Jay Woodcroft is an assistant as well.)
Johnson most recently served on Dale Hunter’s coaching staff with the Washington Capitals. Here’s a write-up on his coaching career via the Sharks:
A 14-year NHL defenseman, Johnson, 49, most recently was an assistant coach on Dale Hunter’s staff with the Washington Capitals. He has also served as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010 and interim head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1999-2000.
Prior to arriving in Washington in 2011, Johnson was coaching for Switzerland’s HC Lugano. While working with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, he also served as the head coach for the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals during the 2009-10 season and as development coach for the Lightning in 2008-09.
Johnson also spent three seasons (2000-02) as an assistant coach with the U.S. National Junior Team.
Some quite reasonably believe that the Sharks’ Stanley Cup window is closing rapidly, but adding some top-notch help for McLellan could help the team get the most out of a still-talented roster. Johnson should be a good addition in that regard.