Ben Raby, wtop.com
ARLINGTON, Va. – Shortly after signing with the Washington Capitals last July, Roman Hamrlik spoke of the chance to win a Stanley Cup for the first time in his 19-year NHL career. Nearly eight months later, Hamrlik’s goals, and perhaps those of the team he plays for, are far more modest.
“Hopefully I [can] stay here and make the team a lot better,” Hamrlik told reporters a day after he was a healthy scratch in a 5-2 loss at Ottawa. “Hopefully make the playoffs and stay here. I don’t have reason to leave.”
Hamrlik was expected to bring stability to Washington’s blueline, but according to head coach Dale Hunter, the Czech defenseman has been more of a liability during the team’s recent struggles.
“He’s taken some penalties and we need him playing better defensively,” Hunter said. “He’s a defensive defenseman and he’s been involved in — the way we do the marking of scoring chances — he’s been involved in them, too many of them, and that’s why he was sitting out.”
In Monday’s 5-0 loss in Carolina, Hamrlik took an elbowing penalty just 3:29 into the first period. Twelve seconds later, Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk scored on the power play and the Carolina rout was on.
Hamrlik said Thursday that he has not spoken with Hunter regarding his being scratched and that he did not know what was involved in Hunter’s decision.
When it was brought to Hamrlik’s attention that Hunter was disappointed in some of the penalties he has taken, the 37-year-old shot back.
“You should ask him about the penalties because when he played I think he made lots of penalties