A strange story is emerging in the world of hockey scribes as Michal Neuvirth, the young Capitals goaltender, has been described by the Globe and Mail's Sean Gordon as player who is "detested" in the Capitals locker room. Now words are hurtful, and "detested" is some pretty strong verbiage to be use in describing a player who had only been with team for a matter of months. But first, let's take a look at the quote in context:
Last year in the playoffs, I was shooting the breeze with a couple of the Washington writers, they were talking about how detested the kid is in the Caps locker room (a few of the players later corroborated this).
Huh. J.P of Japers' Rink takes a shot at unraveling this mystery and points to yesterday's Capitals Report which asserted that that Neuvirth's reputation could stem from a bad rapport with reporters, as Neuvirth reportedly stonewalled a reporter and refused to come out of the shower following a tough loss, forcing that reporter to miss his deadline:
It had something to do with the fact that he didn't come out of the shower when this reporter was on deadline and wanted to talk to him after a tough loss on the road, in Toronto. ... Sometimes a reporter gets a grudge and passes the word around on a guy and then other reporters get it and run with it.
Now this is all a bit too much inside baseball. However, what neither Capitals Report or J.P. addresses is the second part of Gordon's quote, the damning in parentheses "a few of the players later corroborated this."
So is Neuvirth getting a bum deal from a group of local reporters or is he a schmuck to be around? Both Japers' Rink and Capitals Report are promoting the former, going as far to point out that the culprit behind the smear campaign is likely former Capitals beat writer Tarik El-Bashir who noted on Japers' Rink Radio of Neuvirth:
There are a few question marks there in terms of attitude and work ethic, and a few things that, you know... I mean, there are some concerns there.
The truth probably lies somewhere in between the two camps. As J.P. later points out, if Neuvirth were such a holy terror, than the Capitals were unlikely to have signed him recently for two more years. However, Neuvirth may indeed be a fractious and immature personality who gets on the Capitals nerves, and Gordon may have corroborated that opinion with several of the players. Goaltenders are notoriously high strung and diva like in many ways, and Neuvirth may just be acting the part. At the end of the day, performance is what matters, and if Neuvirth leads the team to a Stanley Cup, he can be a big a jerk as Sean Avery and still be a hero in the DMV.