Four Capitals Veterans Talk About Rookie Hazing within Organization
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – As details continue to emerge in the alleged hazing scandal in Miami – in which Dolphins’ veteran Richie Incognito is believed to have bullied Jonathan Martin – the issue has been chief among sports talk radio shows around the country.
As a result, topical questions respective to local athletes have been frequent, especially here in Washington, D.C.
To ensure nothing hinky’s going on within the Capitals locker room, four current veterans on the team – Joel Ward, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer and Karl Alzner, to be specific – spoke on the issue, when asked what kind of “traditions” rookies are subjected to within the organization.
And their responses were all pretty uniform.
Joel Ward, via The Junkies:
“You’ve been around many teams for many years, you’ve been a rookie yourself in the league,” JP said. “Talk about hazing, and then kind of like the worst thing you’ve seen, in terms of like bills, cause we can’t even fathom getting a $15,000 or $30,000 bill dropped on us.”
“Yea, I mean especially the way those boys eat, that’s just, I mean c’mon,” Ward said. “You know, some guys, you gotta kind of know a little bit of part of what goes on. I wouldn’t say it’s hazing that kind of goes on. I don’t know exactly what happened in Miami Dolphins locker room. All I remember is the guy, the whole lunch room incident I guess, where guys kind of teased him and got up or what have you, with the Richie guy.”
“But what’s been your experience?” JP jumped in. “Do you guys leave a tab to the rookies in the thousands?”
“Like do you make a Tom Wilson pick up a $10,000 bar tab?” Cakes asked.
“No, we at least give ‘em a heads up first,” Ward laughed. “But no, you just, you know, some of your duties you gotta do obviously, is we have a rookie dinner. They kind of do that once or twice. You gotta pick up pucks after practice. That’s just kind of unwritten rules stuff. Every year though we do have a rookie dinner where the rookies do take care of the bill.”
“But it’s not just one guy, at least they get to spread it out a little bit,” EB questioned.
“Yea, they get to spread it out to help each other out,” Ward said. “Yea, so you always have a close-knit group of the guys that you come in with because of that.”
“What’s the biggest bill thought that you’ve personally been part of?” JP asked.
“My year I had to pay, I think my rookie year I had to pay like eight grand,” Ward said. “It was divided between I think four of us at the time.”
“So in other words, the whole team will go out, and all the rooks have to pay for it?” EB said.
“Yea,” Ward said. “Everyone goes through it. Everyone does it, so it’s not like it’s uhh…”
“Yea, but can you refuse it?” Lurch asked.
“Well, see that’s the problem,” Ward said. “That’s where it becomes, it could get out of hand if you refuse it. Chalk it up as part of the gig.”
“You just take your lumps and then you’re done with it,” Lurch said.
“Yea,” Ward answered.
Brooks Laich, via The Junkies:
“What was your rookie season like?” JP asked. “Did you ever get hazed? Did you ever have to pick up a big bill?”
“In hockey the only way, the hazing stuff in our sport has been removed,” Laich said. “That’s stuff of the seventies and eighties, but that stuff has been completely removed. The only tradition that we have in our sport is called ‘the rookie dinner’ where on the road, we all go out for a nice meal, and the rookies split the meal three or four ways, and the guys get to have a nice wine and whatever, but you have steak and a seafood tower. You eat well. You eat like a king, but the rookies pick up the tab, and that’s the only thing there is for rookies in our sport.”
“But you don’t go out of your way to order like, the most expensive bottle of wine and then take one home too, right?” EB asked.
“No, I think that’s B.S.,” Laich said. “I think I’ve heard of stories like that in the past, but that was even before I came into the league. But it’s really, I mean we’ve all been a rookie. You pay your tab once and then you get it for the rest of your career, but you have some respect too for the guys when you’re doing it. But it’s a nice meal, everybody gets together to have a nice meal, welcome the guys to the league by picking up the nice little check for us, and then they’re part of the team. I’m really not big into rookie-veteran sort of stuff.”
Troy Brouwer, via Holden and Danny:
“Have you been in a locker room where it got out of hand at one point, and if so, how did that get corrected?” Danny asked. “How did that get corrected?”
“I’ve never been in a situation where I think anyone was made to feel uncomfortable,” Brouwer said. “There’s always gonna be a little bit of razzing and having fun with the guys, but once it goes to the point where you’re making a guy feel uncomfortable in the workplace, then it’s unacceptable. Whether it’s in a hockey locker room or whether it’s in the office, it should be the same atmosphere and the same respect towards people. That being said, there are a few duties that rookies are going to have to do for us. We have a rookie dinner and the rookies pay for dinner, but they’re professionals and they deserve to be treated with respect. Have some fun with it, but at the same point, it shouldn’t go to the point where you’re making guys feel uncomfortable.”
“When’s the rookie dinner, or has it already happened?” Holden asked.
“It hasn’t happened yet,” Brouwer laughed. “It’ll come soon. It’s a tradition that we try to do every year. The rookies expect it, and we give ‘em enough time to save up and make sure that they can pay for it.”
“Where did they take you when you were a rookie?” Holden asked.
“Where did they take me, or what did they take me for?” Brouwer asked for clarification.
“Yea, do you remember?” Holden said.
“We were in … where was my rookie dinner? I think it was in San Francisco,” Brouwer said. “And we had six rookies my year, so it really wasn’t that bad, but I’ve seen a couple that have been pretty tough for the credit card companies to swallow.”
“What’s the biggest paycheck, or the biggest tab that the guys have had to pay?” Holden asked.
“You know what? I honestly don’t know,” Brouwer said. “I know that every team is a little bit different. Every team has a cap that they make sure that if it goes over that, then the guys on the team pay for the rest it, usually the older guys who make more money chip in and help out, so it’s not just extorting the rookies and trying to get their money. But everybody know that it all comes around, right? You only have to pay it once, and then you get to have a nice dinner, a couple nice bottles of wine for the rest of your career.”
Karl Alzner, via Lavar & Dukes:
“Is there any type of, like, culture in hockey where there’s rookie initiations, or hazing or anything like that – hazing is a strong word – but anything like that that you’ve seen take place in hockey?” Lavar asked Alzner.
“Definitely hazing is a strong word and there’s nothing like that,” Alzner said. “We have traditions that we like to follow and that’s our rookie dinner where the rookies take us all out for one meal. They all pitch in and take us out. Then they’re supposed to pick up pucks at the end of practice, they’re supposed to be the last ones on the elevator when we get to the hotel and all that, but other than that, I haven’t seen anything further than that. I know there was, I imagine in all sports, back, you know ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, there was a few more intense traditions, but yea, nothing that I’ve had to deal with.”
Pick up pucks. Pick up pucks. Rookie dinner. Rookie dinner. Enjoy the rest of your life.
See? Nothing to see here.