Photo: Ondřej Bičiště, MF DNES
Washington Capitals prospect Martin Hugo Haš has played in three games so far this season for a grand total of 42 minutes and 43 seconds. For Haš, selected by the Capitals in the 5th round of the 2019 draft, the Czech Republic’s U20 selection camp for the upcoming World Junior Championship, now underway in Litoměřice, is a salivation.
“It’s been almost a year since I played a long-term competition, but maybe it won’t affect my career,” said the 6’-4” defender, who ended last year at the OHL in Guelph Storm, Canada.
“It hasn’t mentally affected me, I’m fine. We probably miss the games, but we play a lot in training, so we try to make up for it. The last time I played was in January/February and then three games in my U20 (Czech Republic training camp) over the summer. The break was long.”
Haš, who turns 20 in February, and the other U20 candidates have convened in advance of this years World Junior Championship, which is set to begin in late December. And like most of the hockey world, the players have been sequestered in a “bubble”. In one building they have everything they need: ice rink, gym, fitness room, dining room, bedrooms.
“Players are not allowed to leave the premises. They can run in the fresh air in front of the stadium, but they should not cross the gate,” coach Karel Mlejnek pointed to the self-closing gate.
Haš describes the scene.
“Contact with people is minimal here, we can move freely in the area. There is a dining room up the stairs, they cook great for us here, the rooms are better.”
Coach Karel Mlejnek details the daily routine.
“Breakfast, then the gym, video meeting, ice. Then there is lunch, rest, a snack, a second video meeting and again on the ice. At half past seven, dinner. And like this over and over again. Players have everything they need here, there are also rooms in the stadium. They must not leave the premises, they can only go to the fresh air in front of the hall. But not behind the gate anymore.”
Photo: Ondřej Bičiště, MF DNES
A similar bubble will be created at the turn of the year in Edmonton, Canada, which will host this year’s World Junior Championship.
“At least we know what we’re going to do,” says Haš. “They’ll probably test us there for COVID-19 every day, which can be stupid for some boys. I can handle it without any problems. The ladies who come here for samples are kind.”
Haš has a place to find whatever it is. He experienced the championship last year and he doesn’t want to miss it this time either. However, the offspring of Letňany and Sparta, who played in Finland for three seasons, needs to fine-tune his form.
“It is a great motivation to get to the World Cup, because there are not many games and they will be at the highest level.”
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) November 12, 2020
If he plays as well as the legendary actor Hugo Haas in the films, after which he was nicknamed as a boy, the ticket to Canada will land with him.
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