On Monday Washington Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas, along with teammates Jakub Vrana and Michal Kempny, flew back to Washington, where they will have to undergo a mandatory quarantine in order to jump into the Capitals training camp beginning on July 10. Before departing for the US, Gudas sat for an interview with Martin Kézr of Sport.cz to discuss the return to play. The following is a translation of segments of the interview.
You won’t take your family across the ocean?
“I don’t think it would be sensible to put the family at risk and drag them to a place where everyone would still have to be locked up. It will be difficult for us to separate for such a long time, but it is definitely better for my loved ones to stay in the Czech Republic, where the situation is not currently as dangerous to health as in the USA. The NHL is willing to sacrifice everything to finish the season interrupted in March, and unfortunately it does not think about hockey players with their families at all, which is sad.”
Was it difficult to find flights to the US capital at this time?
“Not at all. Some are still flying to America, even though there are definitely not as many of those connections as before the coronavirus. Not directly from Prague, but after the opening of the borders with the countries of the European Union, it was easier, after an agreement with the Capitals and the necessary paperwork, a suitable route was found, and surprisingly there are enough tickets available. A charter for all Czech players was also considered, but each club handles the arrival of players differently according to its infectious doctors, and everything is based on that.”
What news did you get from Washington?
“Arrive and go to quarantine, that’s all we know. We have been given a deadline when we have to be there at the latest, so we travel together with Michal Kempný and Jakub Vrána, but otherwise nothing is fixed. If the conference playoffs should be played in one place, we don’t even know where yet. Overall, there are a lot of things unknown, especially the players’ association must still vote on whether to start fighting for the Stanley Cup at all. So we can be back in a week or we’ll spend three months there in isolation.”
Do you want to return after a four-month break from hockey?
“It’s very strange…But I try to take it as professionally as possible, I just have a job overseas that feeds me. All players must obey and fly there.”
Did you find a way to set your head for this unusual situation?
“Don’t think about it at all. When we’re in one of our bubbles, it may be easier, but now just before departure, the situation is the most difficult for me. There are a lot of unknowns around everything, we can’t even imagine a lot of things, and all of this is to be played without the spectators for whom hockey is done. I have not experienced more difficult conditions for hockey in my entire career.”
Can you guess what the playoffs might look like?
“The NHL is pushing hard for it to take place due to television rights, unfortunately, money rules the world. I hope that two weeks in the camp will be enough for us to play, but it will still be enough of a risk. But we will see what agreement is being voted for to start the competition.”
Do you want players to get something for joining it?
“I want us to squeeze as much as possible for ourselves when negotiating the restart of the competition, and perhaps make it a condition that the NHL will let us go to the Olympics in Beijing. When I watched the team chats, the opinions were quite different, so I see the vote completely open.”
You can access the entire interview here.
By Jon Sorensen