Earlier this month the Washington Capitals announced that defenseman Michal Kempny had suffered his second severe leg injury in the last eighteen months, this time to an Achilles’ tendon. The announcement added that Kempny had already undergone successful surgery to repair the tendon, and that he could be out as long as six to eight months.
Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny underwent a successful surgery to repair an Achilles tendon. Kempny sustained his injury while training in Czech Republic. Based on the nature of this injury, Kempny is expected to miss 6-8 months.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) October 6, 2020
Kempny told Jaroslav Tomas in an interview for iDnes.cz that the injury occurred at his local gym, at the end of his workout, at the start of his final sprint of the day.
“It was at the end of training in the gym. I started the last sprint and I didn’t finish it. After the start, when I bounced off my left foot, I woke up on the ground. My leg washed out, my whole tendon burst.”
Kempny is still puzzled by the incident, but feels it could be related to his previous thigh injury.
“Basically, no one explained to me why it happened. I was looking for answers myself. I tried to think about it a lot and came to the conclusion that it could be related to my hamstring, with which I had been working on for a very long time. It took me a year to return to normal,” said Kempny.
You may recall that Kempny suffered a torn thigh muscle just prior to the start of the 2019 playoffs. The injury also required surgery and an extremely arduous summer of rehabilitation. This month’s injury occurred to the Achilles on the same leg that suffered the thigh injury.
Having faced so much adversity in the last 18 months, you might think that Kempny is feeling very down about things. To the contrary, Kempny sees it as a “gift”, a sign post along life’s road, and he is focused on moving forward.
“It’s over for me, I take the situation as it is. I won’t take it back, it was just a shock. Getting over an injury is not easy. It’s hard work, it costs a lot of physical and mental strength. I had a very serious injury that I recovered from last year. And then this came. I certainly wasn’t happy about it, but I take it as a gift.”
“Yes, as a sign. My body is telling me something and I try to perceive it. I’m trying to work with it. Now I focus on the things that fulfill me and I try to be as positive as possible, to have a clear head so that everything heals well.”
Kempny and his girlfriend will return to Northern Virginia early next month in advance of the birth of their first child, and to begin his latest rehabilitation.
“We are currently trying to put together a rehabilitation plan so that everything is set up correctly. And the first week in November, my girlfriend and I will fly to America, because I want my son to be born there.“
For now, Kempny is primarily focused on rehab and the arrival of his son.
“We have a due date in January. It is still unknown what will happen to the (NHL) season and when it will begin, but for me it still does not play a crucial role. It is important that the girlfriend and son are fine. And for me to get better.”
His latest injury, coupled with the pending arrival of his first child, has given Kempny a new perspective on things, a need to re-align his priorities and to prepare for a new phase in his life.
And he certainly isn’t blaming anyone.
“I don’t think it was anyone’s fault. I have an excellent coach for fitness and overall summer training. I’ve been preparing with him for a long time. I would rather see it as a hint and a sign.”
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) September 28, 2020
More importantly, Kempny does not see this as an ending of any kind.
“I certainly don’t take it as an end. On the contrary, as a new beginning and something that will move and strengthen me. I’m not immersed in depression and I’m not killing myself.”
With all that is going on in the world and in Kempny’s life, he is considering this time as the beginning of a new stage in his life.
“We will have a baby in January and I take it as a completely new stage of life. I will learn to switch my head from hockey to family matters and to my son. I’m going to learn to be a dad and I’m really looking forward to it. It will definitely be something different than before. The family will definitely come first now,” said Kempny.
As for the Capitals, following his injury Kempny spoke with a medical official from the team and with a few of his teammates. Kempny expressed a level of guilt and a feeling that he has let his teammates down.
“I only talked to the person in charge of the health side of the players. Of course, I also talked to the boys from the team, who were surprised by what happened. There is a sense of support there, but at the same time I know that they were probably not happy. Now there are some changes on the team, the staff for the new season is being formed. I must have ruined their plans with the injury. We will see what happens. Now we are all in anticipation of what will happen.”
Kempny understands the recent changes to the team, and feels there may be more in store.
”We lost in the first round for two years in a row, so a change came because Washington has the highest goals. We have a new coach and a few (new) players and I don’t think all the changes are over yet.”
As for the firing of Todd Reirden, Kempny had a good relationship with him, but felt things changed between the two when Reirden became head coach.
“It was evolving with him. When I came (to Washington), he helped me a lot as a defensive coach. I’m grateful to him for that. But when he became head coach, our relationship changed a little. Which I understand, because as a head coach he can’t act like an assistant.“
These are definitely uncertain times for Michal Kempny, but he appears to be dealing with it well and in a positive way. The next six months will be a period of change for Kempny as he becomes a new dad, but he will also be tested once again as he endures a lengthy rehabilitation of his left leg for the second time in the last 18 months.
By Jon Sorensen