If there was any doubt over whether Jaroslav Halak would re-sign with the Capitals as a free agent, the turn of events in the past two days assured he won’t.
Twenty-four hours after Capitals coach Adam Oates said Halak “wasn’t a hundred percent comfortable” with facing the St. Louis Blues, Halak’s agent Allan Walsh issued a statement addressing the situation.
“On Jaroslav Halak, Jaro never at anytime said he didn’t want to start against St. Louis,” Walsh stated. “A private conversation between a player and coach should stay private and not be discussed with the media. I am bewildered that a coach would break that trust especially when those comments the coach publicly attributed to Jaro are not accurate. It’s the coach who makes the decision on who plays in the games, not the players.”
Reached at his California office, Walsh declined to comment further on the situation. The Capitals, who are in Raleigh, N.C., for an afternoon practice, have declined to respond to Walsh’s statement.
Halak is in the final year of his contract and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
This is the second time in a week that Oates’ comments have come under public scrutiny. Last week, following a humiliating 5-0 loss to the Dallas Stars, Oates said he thought Alex Ovechkin “quit” on a play that resulted in the Stars’ fourth goal.
Oates’ comments came after the team had an emotional meeting that centered on players like Ovechkin showing more effort. Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said he thought the meeting was productive, but came too late in the season to make much of a difference.
Two days after that meeting, Ovechkin said he thought everybody on the ice quit on the play that led to that goal against Dallas.
To avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years, the Caps need the Blue Jackets and Red Wings to lose tonight to have a chance of getting into the post-season.