Teammates stand behind Erat's trade request

Teammates stand behind Erat's trade request
November 26, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Caps top 5 plays of the week: 11.25.13

Marty Erat hopped on the ice today like any other day. He caught passes, took shots, dug pucks out of corners and took a knee with the rest of his teammates to listen to the Capitals’ coaching staff.

Twenty-four hours after confirming he’s asked general manager George McPhee to trade him and that it’s “time for me to go,” Erat tried to make Tuesday a normal day at the Capitals’ practice facility.

It wasn’t, of course, not with the topic of conversation around the locker room centered on Erat’s trade request.

“He’s a very good player and he wants to play,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. “Of course, he sit on bench as a healthy scratch, it’s not good for a player. Of course, I understand. It happened to him, he’s still a part of our team. Of course, he wants to be traded right now because of his situation in the lineup, but nothing to do with us.

“I’m sure he was not happy right away when he was put on [Jay Beagle’s] line. He wants more ice time and more power-play time. But to us, we are players and tomorrow maybe I’m going be healthy scratch. You never know what’s going to happen. Maybe tomorrow I’m going to get traded. It’s a business. Capitals going to be forever. We going to be here until time is going to be up.

“I don’t think he’s giving up on us. It’s a situation where he want to play. If you look at our lines, where he going to be? I think Oatesy [Adam Oates] talk to him and say, ‘Look, this is why I can’t find a place for you.’ It’s tough to hear it when a coach tell you that to your face.”

[RELATED: Should McPhee take heat for the Erat trade?]

The consensus around the Capitals locker room was very much the same. Even though it is incredibly rare for a hockey player to make public his demand to be traded.—Bobby Carpenter might have been the last Capital to do it in 1986-87 – there was overwhelming support for Erat.

“If you ever met the guy you’d know he’s absolutely harmless,” Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said. “He never says a bad word about anyone. That’s why it’s a surprise in our dressing room that this has happened.

“We have a focus in here within our group as the Washington Capitals and as long as Marty’s here he’s going to be a part of it. He hasn’t shown in any way he doesn’t want to be a part of the group. He just wants an opportunity to accomplish what he can with his skill and his determination.”

Troy Brouwer agreed, saying Erat wants to be “a cornerstone” of a team and he’s not getting that opportunity here in Washington.

“You can’t blame a guy for wanting to play,” Brouwer said.

But at some point, will it become a distraction?

“It is when you talk about it,” Brouwer said. “For us in the dressing room we haven’t talked about it at all. We know what the situation is. We know George and Marty are probably having dialogue about what’s transpiring as far as the logistics part of it goes. But for us Marty’s a good friend. He’s a teammate, most of all, and while he’s here he’s made it clear he’s going to be a professional about it, work hard and be a Capital.”

Erat declined to comment on conversations he’s had with McPhee and what may lie ahead for him, but he said he appreciates the reaction he’s gotten since publicly confirming his trade request.

“Getting respect from the players around the league and getting respect from your teammates, that’s a big thing because that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” he said. “I just have to move on.”

In the meantime, the Caps’ players say Erat will be a welcome member of the team, even though he may not play unless another forward is injured.

“Marty’s a great player and has been for a while,” Holtby said. “We all want to see him succeed and play, just because of the type of person he is.  We’d love to have him here, obviously. Everybody loves him in the dressing room. But in the end it’s his life and he wants to accomplish his goals and we respect that.”

Capitals rookie Michael Latta first got to know Erat as teammates in Nashville. He said Erat showed nothing but class when he was asked to play alongside Erat and rookie Tom Wilson on the fourth line at the start of the season.

“It’s tough for me because Marty has been such a good guy to me and Tom as rookies coming in,” Latta said. “When Marty played with us in the first few weeks of the season he was so good to us. If it happens and he ends up getting traded, that would be sad. But obviously, he wants to play more.”