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Catching up with Caps' NHLPA rep Jason Chimera

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Loose Pucks,Sports,Brian McNally

Capitals forward Jason Chimera is still playing the waiting game. He’s spent much of this fall at home in Alexandria save for a stint in the Czech Republic for five games as the NHL lockout continues. He quickly returned because being away from his young family became a bit much.

“I drag my family around enough that I’m not going to drag them to Europe, too,” Chimera said when reporters caught up with him at Kettler Iceplex on Thursday. “So it was one of those things. My wife said to stick it out, but it was more me wanting to come home.”

Chimera took over as the team’s NHL Players’ Association representative with Troy Brouwer as the alternate. Brooks Laich, the former NHLPA rep, didn’t want the gig anymore and, anyway, had left to play in Switzerland in late September. Chimera, who held that role when he played with the Columbus Blue Jackets, has done his best to keep teammates advised of the latest developments. But things are moving so quickly during the lockout negotiations in New York this week that it’s hard for anyone to keep up.

“I don’t get too up anymore. I rode the roller coaster for a long time and kind of just said I don’t want to anymore,” Chimera said. “I’m hoping. There’s some good dialogue, which is good. I think it’s always good when we talk. I think that’s always one of those things once you talk you keep talking.”

Chimera received some details from former teammate Manny Malhotra and friend Shane Doan, who are attending the meetings in New York this week. He also indirectly referenced the kerfuffle caused by veteran Caps defenseman Roman Hamrlik’s negative comments about the NHLPA leadership a few weeks back. That led to some blowback from Brouwer and star winger Alex Ovechkin, who read them while playing in the KHL in Moscow.

“[The NHLPA is] not putting a muzzle on guys, either. We let guys talk in the media, and some guys speak their word, which is fine,” Chimera said. “I think everyone has a right to their own opinion. It’s America. It’s free speech. But, yeah, if you let it open to everybody I think it’s tough to keep 700 guys quiet, that’s for sure. If things are going good, then it’s good to keep it tight-lipped, if things are going bad, keep it tight-lipped.”

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