For six seasons with the Washington Capitals, Matt Bradley was a cult icon of sorts. The fourth-line forward scrapped and bled his way into the hearts of Caps fans everywhere. Bradley's tenure with Washington came to an end in July when he signed a two-year, $1.9 million contract with the fellow Southeast Division resident Florida Panthers. During his time in D.C., Bradley was the go-to guy for a great quote or anecdote.
But now that he's gone, he has decided to open up a little bit more about his former team, which he did in an interview with Ottawa's Team 1200 Wednesday morning. Among the most blatant things Bradley said was that enigmatic Capitals winger Alexander Semin "just doesn't care."
(More below the jump, and also on Capitals Insider).
At first, Bradley spoke about why the Caps could once again not break through in the playoffs after being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Semifinals:
"You know, I don't have a definite answer. I mean, there's reasons why. We had some guys who didn't show up in the playoffs, and I'll leave them unnamed. I think our locker room was maybe a little bit too nonchalant, and guys weren't disciplined the way they should have been. Those two things are big things."
"Unnamed guys" could be the entire team, but then the first name that potentially comes to mind is Semin. Bradley did not keep him unnamed for much longer:
"I don't mind saying Alexander Semin's name, because he's one guy who has so much talent, he could easily be the best player in the league, and just for whatever reason, just doesn't care. When you've got a guy like that, you need him to be your best player, or one of your best players, and when he dosen't show up, you almost get the sense that he wants to be back in Russia. That's tough to win when you've got a guy like that who's supposed to be your best player not being your best player, or one of your best players."
Bradley also touched on whether or not head coach Bruce Boudreau stuck with his star players for too long even if they were struggling:
"Yeah, and I'm not talking about myself at all here. I mean, there were a lot of guys who played well that didn't probably play as much as they needed to, but I love Bruce and Bruce is a great coach and he was in a very tough position there, because in Washington our top guys are definitely the stars and the guys that people want to see on the ice, so I totally understand. That just doesn't happen on our team, it happens on a lot of teams."
"When you're paying your top guys a lot of money and those guys carry you through the whole season, and if one of them isn't going, it's very hard not to play them, and I understand that that's tough. But I think in the end, if you want to win, sometimes you have to sit some of those guys down and maybe send a message and try to get them going."
Bradley did not mince words, but as NHL.com's Corey Masisak points out, Bradley was very careful not to speak ill of his teammates while with the Caps. Perhaps he should have, though. The Caps continued to bring in veteran leadership last year (Scott Hannan, Jason Arnott) to take control of the locker room, but they had an outspoken veteran all along.
Either way, with those comments, Matt Bradley has riden off into the sunset. Or more appropriately, Sunrise, Florida.