Washington Capitals Defenseman Michal Kempny was very surprised to hear that he was nominated for the Masterton Trophy last week. The award, named after the tragically deceased Bill Masterton, is awarded to an NHL player each season who combines hockey excellence with exemplary devotion and perseverance.
Kempny earned the nod for his dedication and hard work that he put in last summer, rehabilitating from a nasty thigh injury he sustained in a game last spring. Kempny discussed the nomination in a recent interview for iSport Premium.
Kempný (29) tore the back thigh muscle of his left leg during a tilt with the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 20, 2019. After an operation and a summer of grueling rehabilitation, Kempny managed to return to the Capitals line-up in October, 2019.
“I do my best every day. So I’m glad someone sees it.”
Kempny has been working out during the break due to the COVID-19 pandemic in his home country of the Czech Republic, and recently returned to the ice for pickup games with other NHLers.
When you jumped on the ice in Prague last week, David Pastrňák, Lukáš Radil and Jaroslav Hlinka played against you, as well as a few who do not play at the top level. However, it didn’t seem to matter who was up against you. Do you take hockey seriously at all time?
“I hate defeats. I’ve just had it in my mind since I was a child that when I have a chance to win, I just want to win. It doesn’t matter where or who it’s against. We allowed a stupid goal, and it annoyed me. Even though it’s still just hockey and there are definitely more important things to find in life. But I’m the type of person who doesn’t care and always tries to put everything into it. ”
This is where your nickname Psycho came from, which is said to be given to you by your teammates in Washington?
“Yeah, the boys call me that. Everyone knows I train a lot. I always want to prepare as best I can. And during games I sometimes get a little impulsive. I try to get really involved, I put a lot of emotion into games. Somehow it just came that they started calling me that.(Smiles)
Journalists writing about the Capitals nominated you for the Bill Masterton Trophy. How you managed to return after a long and serious injury certainly contributed to this. What do think of the nomination?
“It is a satisfaction for me that I was nominated and next to the players as they are. I really appreciate it and I’m glad that the work I do on the team every day can be seen. ”
Do you wonder what your chances of winning are?
“Not at all. I saw that list of players. There is Oscar Lindholm from Philadelphia, who suffers from a serious illness. Jay Bouwmeester of St. Louis had an incident right on the bench, there are others who deserve the award. I don’t want to think about how it could end up. And I don’t really care. But to put it bluntly, I was quite surprised when I appeared on the list of nominees for the Masterton Trophy. On the other hand, why not. I love hockey, I can do what I enjoy. I put the maximum into it every day. So I’m glad someone sees it. ”
So far, the only Czech player who eventually won the trophy was Jaromír Jágr four years ago. It would be pretty nice to follow up on him and be like him, what do you think?
“Of course it’s great. Many other great players have won this award in the past. ”
During the forced break, you joined a group that goes to Letňany to play hockey. It is usually made up of players from Prague or those who live here. Your roots go back to Moravia. How did you feel about them?
“I’m spending time here right now, I want to prepare well. Last year I basically had no summer, I couldn’t train because it was after leg surgery. This year I go on ice with the boys, we are preparing with a fitness trainer, I try to use the time as much as I can. I also play tennis. ”
Is it true that you finally beat David Pastrňák recently?
“Well no. I lost in a tiebreak. When I was younger, I played tennis for six years. I like it, it is an excellent additional sport for a hockey player. Now I go to the courts almost every day. ”
You can read the entire interview ($$) here.
By Jon Sorensen