Lars Eller is defending the Washington Capitals’ professionalism four months after the team was upset by the New York Islanders in the first round of the 2020 playoffs.
In August, The Athletic’s Michael Russo surmised that the Capitals turned their bubble experience into a vacation, “having pool parties and things like that.” He added, “They had no interest in being there.”
Eller strongly pushed back on that assertion during a Tuesday morning interview with The Sport Junkies on 106.7 The Fan.
“I’m sure he got maybe a few clicks or some followers from that or something,” Eller said as transcribed by NBC Sports Washington. “But no, that’s far from the truth. We’re competitors by nature. I don’t think we played our best hockey in Toronto but it didn’t have anything to do with what was going on off the ice…We didn’t treat it any differently than we would’ve had at home and everybody was ready to play when the puck dropped. There wasn’t anything going on at the hotel that shouldn’t be going on.
“There was a pool and there were served drinks but I think all the teams spent some time by the pool having a few drinks on their days off. Nothing out of the ordinary, really.”
The Capitals were eliminated in five games by Barry Trotz’s Islanders and Capitals head coach Todd Reirden was fired days after.
A source close to the Capitals, who asked not to be identified, told RMNB the comment was “BS.”
Other sources have pushed back as well. One Eastern Conference player told ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan over the summer that “there were some misconceptions because some of the younger guys from teams were advertising it on their Instagrams.”
The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir added that the Capitals only had one “rambunctious” night and it was before their only win in the postseason (the Kuzy Bald game).
During the postseason, Eller left the bubble for the birth of his son Alex, but did not go to the hospital for the delivery. “That was a sacrifice I made,” Eller said in August. He only had to serve four days in quarantine and missed only one game of the team’s series against the Isles.
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