Wash­ing­ton not the right fit, says Erat

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY MIKE HAR­RIS

With apolo­gies to the Right­eous Brothers, Martin Erat has lost that lov­ing feel­ing for ol’ D.C. If he ever had it in the first place.

Erat, traded to the Cap­i­tals on April 3 af­ter re­quest­ing to be dealt from the Nashville Preda­tors, con­firmed Mon­day that he’d asked Caps gen­eral man­ager Ge­orge McPhee to move him again. “It is time for me to go,” Erat said. A web­site in Erat’s na­tive Czech Repub­lic, iDNES. cz, first re­ported his de­sire to move on af­ter his brief time with the Caps. Erat didn’t make any at­tempt to duck the is­sue in a brief in­ter­view with the lo­cal press Mon­day.

“Yes, I want to be traded, see how it goes,” Erat said. “Since Day One, I didn’t get the chance here. I got here to be a top-six player but never got the

chance, never played more than 15 min­utes. It is time for me to move on.”

McPhee and coach Adam Oates said they were not up­set with Erat’s de­mand to be traded. Both praised his han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion and McPhee said he is work­ing on tak­ing care of it. Erat sat out Satur­day’s game in Toronto as a healthy scratch, a move Oates said was re­lated to the re­quest. But Oates did not rule out Erat play­ing again for the Caps as long as he re­mains part of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Marty doesn’t feel like he fits in here and we’ve al­ways told our play­ers that if you don’t feel like you fit in and it would be bet­ter for your ca­reer to be some­place else, let us know and we will try to ac­com­mo­date you,” McPhee said. “This isn’t the first time we’ve done this and it won’t be the last. We’ll try to ac­com­mo­date him.

“I ad­mire him for it. He’s been pro­fes­sional. He’s not point­ing fin­gers or any­thing like that. He just ba­si­cally said, ‘Th­ese things hap­pen. It’s not work­ing for me and I’d like an op­por­tu­nity some­place else.’ … There’s no prom­ises on when it hap­pens. We’ll see how long it takes.”

The Caps sent Filip Fors­berg, at the time rated the No. 2 prospect in their sys­tem, to the Preda­tors for Erat and prospect Martin Latta. Nashville was the only NHL team Erat had played for and he had a streak of eight straight sea­sons with at least 16 goals. But that ended last year. He had four goals in 36 games when he was traded and added one in nine games with the Caps.

This sea­son, Erat started on the fourth line and was even­tu­ally moved up to the sec­ond line. But he has pro­duced only six as­sists in 23 games, and three came in one con­test.

“It’s just the way it goes, they just give straight sig­nal,” Erat said. “I do not fit here.”

De­spite the lack of pro­duc­tion last sea­son and this, McPhee in­sists Erat still has some value. He’s likely not to bring a prospect of For­berg’s level in re­turn this time. The team that takes on Erat will take on a salary cap hit of $4.5 mil­lion on a deal that runs through next sea­son.

“He’s a good hockey player and there are teams that would like to have him,” McPhee said, “so we’ll con­tinue those dis­cus­sions. All I know is it didn’t work for him here. But he’s a good guy, a good player, a good pro. I have no is­sues with him.”

Oates at first said “you guys just talked about it with Ge­orge, no sense in me go­ing there,” but he did go there for a while. While prais­ing Erat’s pro­fes­sion­al­ism, Oates noted the player had two in­juries af­ter join­ing the team last year. This year, the re­turn of Brooks Laich from in­jury and the ad­di­tion of Mikhail Grabovski through free agency al­tered the team’s chem­istry.

“He came from Nashville play­ing first power play. He came here, you’re not first power play,” Oates said. “So there’s four min­utes right there. They are qual­ity min­utes and that af­fects pro­duc­tion. Un­for­tu­nately he got hurt, twice, for us. He never got a chance to get his legs go­ing.”

He didn’t ex­pect Erat’s con­tin­ued pres­ence to be a prob­lem. Th­ese things hap­pen, Oates noted. He re­quested trades a cou­ple of times dur­ing his Hall of Fame play­ing ca­reer. If Erat isn’t moved soon, Oates said there would be no hes­i­ta­tion to put him in the lineup again.

“Only prob­lem would be is if it turned into a sideshow,” Oates said, “and he’s not that type of per­son. As a coach, my job is to be a pro, too. He’s been noth­ing but a pro about it.”

Said Erat, “It is my job and I’m go­ing to prove to every­body if I can to try and play as best as I can. But right now, for me, it is time to look at dif­fer­ent op­tions.”

McPhee said tak­ing on Erat was right for the Caps at the time. Fors­berg, 19, has one goal and four as­sists in 12 games for Nashville this sea­son. Latta is play­ing reg­u­larly for the Caps on the fourth line. He has a goal and two as­sists in 14 games.

“No re­grets,” McPhee said. “We did what we had to do then and we’ll do what we have to do now.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.