Washington Capitals Get Enhance From Kempny’s Comeback

Michal Kempny’s street to the NHL was lengthy. His Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) debut didn’t come till after his 25th birthday and, as an undrafted prospect who spent his junior profession in Slovakia, there have been by no means any ensures that he would make it to the huge present.

However, after impressing in Russia for Avangard Omsk, he reached the promised land in 2016-17, signing a one-year cope with the Chicago Blackhawks. Following one other profitable first season in a brand new county (and league), Kempny re-committed to the Illinois franchise, making 31 additional appearances for the Blackhawks earlier than he was dealt to the Washington Capitals.

Traded for a third-round choose within the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the Czech blueliner arrived in D.C. on Feb. 19, 2018. He hoisted the Stanley Cup simply 108 days later, immediately turning into a fan favorite at Capital One Area.

Michal Kempny was traded to the Washington Capitals for a third-round choose in 2018 (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers).

If the sense of euphoria Kempny felt on his day with the Cup was the highest of highs, he has additionally skilled the lowest of lows since. The 6-foot-1 defenceman has suffered three critical accidents to his left leg since Washington defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in Recreation 5, as soon as tearing his hamstring and twice damaging his anterior cruciate ligament. Reassignment to the Hershey Bears adopted.

When Kempny first broke into the NHL, he realized a childhood dream. When he returned to the Washington lineup after two years away earlier this week, he overcame harm hell. Make no mistake, the 31-year-old’s NHL comeback is among the greatest feel-good tales of the season. It mustn’t be missed.

Sturdy Type and COVID-19 Led to Michal Kempny’s NHL Return

Kempny was recalled by the Capitals on Dec. 27 after six gamers fell into the league’s coronavirus protocol checklist. Washington’s COVID six included three top-six defencemen (Martin Fehervary, Nick Jensen, Justin Schultz), the workforce’s seventh defenceman (Dennis Cholowski), and a tandem netminder (Vitek Vanecek).

Associated: Capitals’ COVID Listing Grows, Protection Depleted

Though Kempny was in line for a call-up given the circumstances, he earned his alternative to return to the fold in D.C. by way of his performances within the American Hockey League (AHL) for the Bears.

In 24 appearances for Hershey this time period, the Hodonin native put up seven factors – all of them assists – alongside third-year professional, Bobby Nardella. They struck up fairly the connection within the AHL, consuming top-pair minutes because the Bears vaulted up the Atlantic Division standings with a 14-9-2 document. Kempny wore the ‘A’ with the Bears and performed a outstanding position on the penalty kill, a place he relished on his street to restoration.

Such a protracted journey for Kempny to get again. Accidents, AHL time. Positively not straightforward, particularly mentally. https://t.co/5jLJNBHruK

“My mindset has been, you understand, similar on a regular basis. I imply, I’m attempting to work each day and attempting to work my approach again. I’m not stressing out,” the veteran defender defined.

“You recognize, it was what it was, or it’s what it’s. I imply, clearly, I didn’t anticipate to play in AHL. However you understand, I received despatched down there and I received to say that they’ve a extremely good group. The coaches, the trainers. It’s been actually good down there… it actually helped me rather a lot to sort of construct my confidence again up.”

Via two NHL appearances to shut out the calendar 12 months, it’s clear that his stress-free method is paying dividends.

Banked Move Will get Michal Kempny Again on the Board

After nearly two years away, Kempny made his NHL return in Washington’s 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday [Dec. 29]. He featured on the second pair alongside Trevor van Riemsdyk, performed greater than 20 minutes, and bagged a secondary help. As comebacks go, it was a great one.

Kempny’s play to arrange Nick Dowd’s purpose was particularly spectacular, banking his go off the boards to start out a fateful Washington assault. The purpose capped off a optimistic evening for the defender, who didn’t look misplaced in his first NHL recreation since March 9, 2020.

“I’ve the mindset that I don’t need to find yourself down [in the AHL] entire season,” he mentioned. “I simply attempt to be optimistic each day, to work exhausting, that every little thing’s going to end up effectively for me. Proper now, I’m right here, and we’ll see what’s going to occur. I’m going to take pleasure in each day to be right here, I’m not going to say what’s going to occur sooner or later… I’m attempting to be within the current.”

Versus the Detroit Pink Wings, Kempny was much less spectacular. Though he stored tempo with the sport by way of a lot of his 19:52 of ice time, his lack of sharpness was uncovered on Detroit’s purpose – which left him flummoxed because the buzzer sounded.

Nevertheless, his reintroduction to life within the NHL was by no means going to be simple – and there stay causes to be cheerful. Kempny is again – no less than for so long as the Caps require COVID cowl – and is beginning to appear to be his outdated self. He might turn out to be useful by the point the playoffs swing into view.