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Hunter raises eyebrows by scratching Hamrlik (healthy scratch, that is…he’s not literally scratching him, though that would also raise eyebrows)

Dec 1, 2011, 5:53 PM EDT

Roman Hamrlik Getty Getty Images

Dale Hunter’s first curious decision as Washington Capitals head coach is in the books. He’s made defenseman Roman Hamrlik a healthy scratch for tonight’s big game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s the first time the 19-year veteran has been a healthy scratch this season.

“It’s feeling,” Hunter explained to the Washington Times. “It’s one of those things that we just decide as a coaching staff.”

Hamrlik’s played all 23 games this season, recording 1G-0A-1PT with a minus-10 rating — so yeah, there are a few reasons to drop him from the lineup. The Caps are also carrying seven healthy defensemen, meaning someone had to be the odd man out. (Most recently, that guy had been Jeff Schultz.)

All that said, the move is still surprising. Even with Hamrlik’s anemic stats, he’s still averaging close to 20 minutes per game and leading the team in blocked shots (46). He’s also in the first season of a two-year, $7 million contract that makes him Washington’s third highest-paid blueliner.

Final note: If you say “scratch” over and over it starts to sound really weird. Go ahead, try it.

  1. bcfrese - Dec 1, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    If you’ve been watching the Caps closely while they’re in the rut, it’s been clear that Hamrlik’s more part of the problem than the solution. He’s been on the ice for a tremendous portion of the goals against the Capitals, and his lack of footspeed has caused him problems with speedier forwards. Caps fans certainly aren’t raising their eyebrows about this decision.

    • govtminion - Dec 1, 2011 at 6:07 PM

      Amen to that. I kept wondering why Boudreau wasn’t doing this already.

  2. rsl22 - Dec 1, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    Hamrlik has been awful, but replacing him with Pillows Schutlz is no better.

    Caps are probably better off playing Brooks Laich on D than having either of those hacks on the ice.

  3. bcjim - Dec 1, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    I fully concur with theae comments

  4. donttouchthedirtypenny - Dec 1, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    I remember Hunter scratched Turgeon about 20 years ago. That raised some eyebrows too.

    • taytay099 - Dec 1, 2011 at 7:36 PM

      Yeah, I heard Hunter missed a game or two for that scratch.

  5. nhlbruins90 - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    It really depends on where he scratches him.

  6. cshearing - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:01 AM

    Hamrlik was done last year in MTL. I was shocked at the contract; looked like desperation from McPhee.

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