Some might say that Michal Kempny is a man of great timing, but a victim of bad luck. The 31-year old was originally traded to the Washington Capitals at the 2018 trade deadline, just in time to help the Capitals win their first Stanley Cup. He reached the NHL’s mountain top in less than four months with the Capitals.
But since hoisting the Cup, things have not exactly gone Kempny’s way. He suffered two very serious injuries that greatly limited his playing time. He even suffered an additional injury when he was on a rehab assignment in Hershey following a collision with an ice maintenance worker during a timeout. He also dealt with a case of Covid and a tornado in his home town along the way.
Whether you call it bad luck, a manifestation of one’s own destiny or a combination of both, that’s a lot of adversity for one to deal with in a relatively short period of time. In Kempny’s defense, he seemed to always carry a positive outlook and attacked all of the adversity that came his way.
Change Is Certain
Unfortunately, it was fairly clear to all, including Kempny, that his time in Washington was drawing to a close as his deal with the Capitals expired at the end of the 2021-22 season. Kempny even packed up all his belongings and tied up all loose ends in Washington before departing for his home in Czechia this summer.
The only question remaining for Kempny was whether he would he get another opportunity in the NHL. He discussed the events from the last few months in an interview earlier this week with Czechia media outlet Idnes.cz.
“It was quite slow. When the free agent market opened, I didn’t expect to be involved for the first two days,” said Kempny. “Much bigger players than me were waiting for a contract. But as the next days passed, the nervousness increased. In my head, I wasn’t ready to go back to Europe. I didn’t want to leave the NHL after the season I had. That would gnaw at me for a long time.”
For Kempny, he wasn’t happy about the way his time in Washington came to an end, but was glad he got to showcase his talents this summer in the 2022 IIHF World Championship with Team Czechia.
“It’s more about the last two years. I didn’t play one (season) due to injury and last season I played fifteen games in the NHL. I wasn’t happy with that. I was very happy that at least the (IIHF) World Championship was a success for me, to which I could go. I worked up an appetite after a difficult year.”
On Sunday Kempny signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Kraken for $750,000. “It’s my last chance in the NHL,” Kempný said. However, signing with another NHL team was anything but assured. He was nervous about his future in the NHL.
“Everything was handled by my agents. We knew there was some interest. Only at the beginning we did not have specific information. Before free agency opened, we were in contact with one more NHL team. My agent was calling teams to see how I was doing and how things might look with me. In addition to Seattle, we had one other team. There weren’t really many people interested. Seattle ended up being the most serious and it worked out in the end.”
Kempny wanted a one-way deal, which may have potentially limited his opportunities, but in the end, he got his desired deal with Seattle.
“I signed a one-way contract, which was a priority for me. I didn’t really want to sign a two-way deal. Competition is in every team. I will do my best to come to camp as well prepared as possible. I do not question my qualities. I know what’s in me. And when I’m healthy, I know what I can do. I will focus on each day to make it work.”
Always A Champion
In the end, Kempny has nothing but positive feelings and is very grateful for his time in Washington.
“We spent four and a half years of our lives there. One makes a lot of friendships in the club or even in the city. I am very grateful to have been able to serve in an organization like the Capitals. I will have many beautiful memories. But something beautiful must end so that something more beautiful can begin.”
By Jon Sorensen