Troy Brouwer is known in certain quarters of the NHL as a "go-to guy."
In this case, it does not mean the Washington Capitals forward is the guy you look to for a big goal in the final minute. Brouwer, 27, is a heart-and-soul player who can kill penalties well and provide a bit of scoring, but when it comes to skills he is strictly working-class.
No, in this case Brouwer is the go-to guy for sports writers around the league. If you want someone who speaks his mind, the Vancouver native is your man.
Brouwer did not disappoint on Monday when he was asked about Alexander Semin coming back to play in Washington on Tuesday for the first time since he signed as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes. Semin is a world-class talent with a reputation for not putting in a full night's work every time, something that did not endear him to teammates like Brouwer, although Caps superstar Alexander Ovechkin said he missed his fellow Russian.
Ovechkin may be a crowd of one among the Capitals in his opinion of Semin, who is doing well in Carolina with 14 points this season, the same as Ovechkin.
"Some nights you didn't even know if he was going to come to the rink," Brouwer told reporters. "It's tough to play alongside guys like those because you don't know what you're going to get out of 'em."
All things considered, Brouwer said, "It was tough to lose his scoring ability when he wanted to play. But … I think we've been doing well without him."
Now, if you consider that without Semin the Capitals are last in the NHL's Southeast Division (the Hurricanes are first), that is quite a shot.
But Brouwer isn't the only former teammate of Semin's to question his work habits. Matt Bradley caused a stir in the summer of 2011 after he left the Capitals and told a radio interviewer that Semin "just doesn't care."
However, at least one of Semin's current teammates took to social media to defend him. Hurricanes forward Tim Brent shot back at Brouwer with a couple of Twitter posts.
"Just read Troy Brouwer's comments about Semin. I can say on behalf of his teammates that we love having him here, and he has been a big part of our success so far with his consistent play and work ethic. NOT only his scoring ability. I hope he sticks it to them," Brent tweeted.