On Michal Neuvirth's Reputation

Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

In a somewhat bizarre and, by the author's own admission, "completely irrelevant to the discussion" attack on Michal Neuvirth 's reputation, The Globe and Mail's Sean Gordon related the following anecdote in a post that appeared on the paper's site yesterday:

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.

Is it odd that scribes would be discussing (in April) a player that hadn't been with the team for two months? Perhaps, though with the future of the Caps' netminding always a hot topic, it's certainly something that would have come up eventually, even if Neuvirth was up the road in Hershey at the time. Is it strange that "a few of the players" would later corroborate "how detested the kid is in the Caps locker room"? That seems to be a bit more of a stretch (and a particularly strong word in "detested"), though presumably Mr. Gordon is solid on his sources.

As to one of those sources, Mike Vogel and Brett Leonhardt suggested on yesterday's Capitals Report (around the 32:30 mark here) who that "Washington writer" might have been:

Vogel: At least one Washington reporter never liked Neuvirth from the start and was very vocal about it....

Leonhardt: And this had nothing to do with his performance on the ice, it had nothing to do with how his teammates liked him...

Vogel: 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.

The pair go on to question and refute the substance of the Gordon quote and then to out the reporter to whom they were referring as then-Washington Post beat writer Tarik El-Bashir (who back on the June 26 edition of Japers' Rink Radio said 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."). 

There's a lot of circumstantial evidence here, of course, but this isn't a court of law, so you can make of the information what you want. And if the opinions of Vogel and Leonhardt and the lack of objective sources - anonymous or otherwise - badmouthing the kid aren't enough for you, CSN Washington's Alan May had this to say of Neuvirth this afternoon on "The LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes" (around the 3:30 mark here):

He's a consummate team player. ... He's got a terrific attitude... everyone loves his attitude. A guy like that you'll always want to bring in. Whether he's the starter or a backup, he's the kind of guy you want on your team.

To be sure, none of these parties is without their own inherent bias - Vogel and Leonhardt are team employees, and, as an analyst for the network that broadcasts Caps game, May has something of a vested interest as well. But money doesn't have those same biases, and teams with aspirations don't keep "detested" players around... so the recent two-year extension Neuvirth signed speaks for itself as well as anyone can.

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