August 14, 2022

OPINION: Brouwer’s comments shed further light on Caps dark secrets

“It can be frustrating. I know there’s a lot of guys that work really, really hard to get where they are, playing in the NHL. And some guys it’s a little bit easier because of their skill set. Every player’s different, everyone’s attitude is different. Every personality is different, and that’s why the world is the way it is.” — Troy Brouwer, on former teammate Alexander Semin

You had to know that the first time the Washington Capitals faced the Carolina Hurricanes this season, there would be some emotion — at least from the Caps side of things. Indeed, Caps backup alternate captain Troy Brouwer, often hailed as a leader of the club, went off unprovoked on former teammate Alexander Semin, who makes his first trip to D.C. as a visiting player Tuesday night with his new team.

“It was tough to lose his scoring ability, when he wanted to play,” Brouwer said. “But all in all I think we’ve been doing well without him. Some nights you didn’t even know if he was going to come to the rink. It’s tough to play alongside guys like those because you don’t know what you’re going to get out of ‘em.”

Brouwer also made comments about the lack of accountability under former head coach Bruce Boudreau, and that’s probably another not-so-veiled attack on the perceived preferential treatment for certain players in the room — of which Semin was almost certainly included.

On playing under Boudreau, Brouwer said, “It was very laxidasical…kind of guys were able to do whatever they pleased. There wasn’t a whole lot of accountability and then when we had a little bit of trouble and there needed to be accountability it wasn’t received exactly with open arms, I’ll say.”

The feelings Brouwer made public today are not new and every single person in that room — player, reporter and staff — were well aware of them, whether they are an accurate representation of what was going on or not.

Mercurial. Enigmatic. Lazy. Aloof. All words that have been used to describe the ultra-talented Semin by members of the D.C. media, both in the past and some resurfacing today in the wake of Brouwer tearing the scab off a still-fresh wound. Brouwer becomes yet another former teammate of Semin’s to rip the player after they were no longer teammates.

Semin certainly made himself an easy target, taking off optional skates, leaving the room before media could question him, almost always using a translator when his English was at least passable. Then there’s the perception by fans, media, and apparently Semin’s teammates that he didn’t always play hard on the ice and couldn’t get more out of his considerable talent that he did.

Making these comments today, largely unprovoked by the media, signifies that Brouwer is still carrying the baggage from a problem that has been eradicated. Who knows how many others feel the same? It seems to me that if Brouwer had such a problem with Semin he should have said something to him or the team at the time instead of muttering things under his breath or behind Semin’s back.

One has to wonder if these feelings were ever discussed behind closed doors before being aired in the public. And if not, why not?

All these comments do today is let Brouwer feel a little better about himself and serve the media with juicy sound bites. They also give Semin and his Hurricanes teammates extra motivation to come into Verizon Center Tuesday night and rip two more points away from the Caps. It further reinforces the perception of dysfunctionality of the Caps room and organization, at least at that time.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP


  1. The Fingerman says:

    Totally agree. These comments serve no purpose now that Semin is gone, and they actually make Brouwer look the most silly–since he says the Caps have been “doing well without him,” even though they’re in last place and seem to have the same problems of inconsistency and fragility they’ve had the last couple years now that Semin is gone.

    In fact, I think Brouwer comments are as much an indictment of coaching and management as Semin. Brouwer says every player is different and every personality is different–and thus every player needs to be treated a little bit differently. A good coach should be able to adjust his approach depending on what that player needs to be successful–and it’s obvious that neither BB nor DH were able to do that.


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