Photo: HC Sparta Praha
Former Capitals defenseman signed a 2-year contract with HC Sparta Praha in the Czech Extraliga on Friday. This news comes a day after he cleared unconditional waivers to terminate his contract with the Seattle Kraken.
After the expiration of his contract with the Washington Capitals,Kempny signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Kraken for the 2022-23 season. However, on Oct 11, the Kraken assigned him to their AHL affiliate, the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
According to the HC Sparta Praha website, their management had sought Kempny’s services during the summer, but Kempny preferred a contract in the NHL, where he signed with Seattle.
Kempny was unable to secure a roster spot for the Kraken and returned to the Czech Republic. Kempny practiced for the first time on Friday morning and, after lunch, signed a two-year contract with HC Sparta.
The Capitals originally acquired Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks on February 18, 2018, in exchange for a third-round draft pick. Kempny ultimately became part of the Capitals’ first defense pairing along with John Carlson as the team went on to win the Stanley Cup that season. After the season, the Capitals re-signed him to a four-year contract.
Unfortunately, during the next season,Kempny was injured during a scrum in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning which turned out to be a severe hamstring injury that required surgery.
His rehabilitation after that injury inspired the Capitals to nominate him for the Bill Masterton Trophy which is awarded annually by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey,
In 2020, during an off-season workout, Kempny tore his Achilles’ tendon, which required another surgery and lengthy rehabilitation. He started skating with the team’s taxi squad six months after his surgery, but a month later, the Capitals sent him to their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, for a conditioning stint and he once again got injured, this time when running into an ice scraper.
After clearing waivers this week, Kempny and his fiancee, Nicola, and their young son, Adam, made the long airplane journey from the United States to Czechia. Kempny described the last 48 hours.
“It was a bit of a hectic time. We were dealing with the termination of the contract overseas and yesterday the transfer to the Czech Republic was on the agenda. Long flight. I didn’t sleep much. But I’m glad to finally be home. So the feelings are definitely great.”
He said that it was not an overnight decision to play for Sparta but rather an ongoing possibility.
“It wasn’t an overnight decision. We addressed this possibility on an ongoing basis. It didn’t work out the way I imagined overseas. I basically only played one game there, got concussed in the second one and haven’t played since. At the beginning of the season, they immediately sent me to the farm. I didn’t want to be in the position I was in last year. My family and I decided to go back,” said Kempny.
“We had already agreed in the summer that if it didn’t work out, I would come to Sparta. We have a family background in Prague. We are here at home. There was nothing to think about.”
He will likely not play in Sunday’s game and expects his first game with HC Sparta Praha to occur on Wednesday.
By Diane Doyle
HC Sparta Praha Website Story
Washington Post Story From 2021 on Kempny’s Injuries
Michal Kempny Grateful For Time In Washington: “I Appreciate That I Could Be In Such An Organization”
Michal Kempny Reflects On His Time In Washington And New Opportunity Ahead: “It’s My Last Chance In The NHL”
By Diane Doyle