After four years of playing overseas, Radko Gudas and Michael Neuvirth, who together with Jakub Voráček, had formed the Czech colony in Philadelphia since 2015, are heading towards new destinations in the NHL. Gudas, who was traded, is looking forward to playing in Washington D.C. However, Gudas’ brother-in-law, Neuvirth, is on a player tryout contract with Toronto and is battling for a job there. Gudas does not have doubts about his relative and friend.
Below are questions and answers from a recent interview by Jaroslav Kalina for iSport.cz.
Question: What do you think about Michael Neuvirth’s decision to try out in Toronto?
Gudas: I think it’s great. Everyone knows he’s a good goalie. Good goalies believe in themselves. Last season, though, he did not have a great year due to his health problems, but before that, he did his best, played several games in Philadelphia, and even nearly won a whole playoff series. If he stays healthy, I believe Toronto will be solid.
Question: He admitted that he had the opportunity to sign a one-way contract in the NHL during the summer, but decided to fight for a test at the Maple Leafs. Do you understand this decision?
Gudas: It also depends on which club offered Michael the one-way contract. I would say that he considered the outlook of the teams and their representatives who contacted him. I think he weighed all the pros and cons with the agent and himself. He certainly knows very well what he expects from himself and the contract next season. When he feels good, I see no reason why he wouldn’t go to Toronto to fight for a job.
Question: After Neuvirth agreed on a try-out with Toronto, the club traded goalkeeper Garret Sparks to Las Vegas. In your view, will it be closer to the signature?
Gudas: I don’t think it will be easier. Toronto still has at least two goalies on two-way contracts, so I would say there is not much chance around. Either Michal will just be better than the others and the coaches will like it, or it will not work. However, I believe he will be given a fair chance to fight for a place on the team.
Question: Have you discussed this choice?
Gudas: Of course. During the summer we live near each other and we train together in Prague. So, of course, we talked about it.”
Question: What relationship do you think you have with your brother-in-law?
Gudas: I think the best one ever can be. (Gudas then smiles.) I look forward to a winning atmosphere in Washington.
Question: A new engagement in Washington awaits next season. Are you busy preparing for the next NHL challenge?
Gudas: In fact, the whole month is already in preparation. A new job awaits me again, so we are dealing with moving, new housing and various logistics associated with it. My family and I are slowly starting to prepare for it. We are going to Washington in two weeks, so we can start getting used to the new environment.”
Question: Have you done anything in Washington and are you prepared for your departure?
Gudas: Most things are already done. We are in the final stage of preparation. We are seriously dealing with the small stuff.
Question: What, or who are you most looking forward with your new team?
Gudas: I look forward to the winning atmosphere there. The team has been one of the top NHL clubs in the past five years. Everyone there knows how to win. A year ago, the Capitals managed to win the Stanley Cup. So I’m sure they’ll want to win it again. I think this summer was too long and everyone will be motivated. It will be an honor to be part of one of the best NHL teams.”
Question: In the NHL, you have always been lucky enough for a large Czech colony. First in Tampa with Ondřej Palát and Andrej Šustr, and later in Philadelphia with Jakub Voráček and Michal Neuvirth. So you’ve never had a shortage. I suppose you’re happy to meet Michal Kempny and Jakub Vrana at Capitals, right?
Gudas: It’s super. (Gudas then smiles) Kempný and I have known each other since my childhood. I have known Vrana since playing in the NHL. In addition, they signed Richard Paník with whom I played with in Tampa. I look forward to playing with them. I am glad to have a fellow Czech or someone who speaks a similar language on the team. It’s definitely a plus.”
Question: Have you learned any information about Washington from them?
Gudas: We are in constant contact, but also other guys from the team wrote to me. I will slowly get to know them better.
Question: Do you still know anyone from the Capitals cadre?
Gudas: I played against most the players, so we know about ourselves. I look forward to the fact that I will not have to face shots from Ovechkin. I will not have to defend against Kuznetsov, who is running across the ice. It’ll be nice to be on a team with players like Tom Wilson, Garnet Hathaway and others.
Question: Have you met Alexander Ovechkin?
Gudas: We greeted each several times during the World Championship and the Olympics. My dad also met members of his family. We know each other a bit by sight, but we haven’t been to dinner together. I think it is yet to come.
Link to original Czech interview with Isport.cz: