The best moment of Caps Rookie Camp didn’t happen on the ice. It happened on Monday in front of a podium. That’s where one Czech, Jakub Vrana, who knows some English, helped another Czech, Vitek Vanecek, who knows virtually none, speak to the media.
The result was a five-minute press conference full of laughing, inscrutable Czech banter, and one-sentence English translations for the media.
Curious as to what Vrana and Vanecek were actually saying to each other in their native language, I reached out to Darina Sameková, a bilingual Czech, and asked her to translate LITERALLY EVERYTHING.
The result is a stressed-out Vrana desperately trying to get good answers out a joking Vanecek. It’s just the best. You have to trust me and read this.
Question: Let’s start with the draft. When the Caps selected you in the draft, what went through your mind? What were your thoughts?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): When Washington Capitals chose you, what was the first thing on your mind?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Say that I didn’t even believe it was true. It was such an amazing feeling and I was really happy.
Jakub Vrana (in English): He say he was really happy, and you know, he didn’t believe it. But it comes so he was happy.
Question: Now a little about [your goaltending coach] Mitch Korn. Are these all new gadgets and toys that you’re using? What’s it been like dealing with Mitch?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): He’s asking about Mitch, your coach. How are practices going, you know, about new gadgets. Yeah, understand?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): No, I don’t. [laughs]
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): What? [laughs]
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): No. [laughs]
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Say something!
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Say that he is a great coach. I’m happy that I can do practices with him. I gain a lot of experience.
Jakub Vrana (in English): He says he gets most experience from him. He says he’s really happy and he really like the coach very much and yeah.
Question: Has he ever used [goaltending] tools like this before?
Jakub Vrana (in English): Sorry?
Question: Has he ever used [goaltending] tools like this before? The screen door…
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Have you ever used these .. these, dude how’s it called? Yeah, white pucks or any other new gadgets?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): No, no, no, never. Never before. Now is for the first time.
Jakub Vrana (in English): No, never before. First time he see it here.
Question: Does the language barrier make it hard to understand?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Is it hard for you to understand when he is speaking to you or trying to explain something in English?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Well, when he’s talking to me in English then I don’t understand, but I definitely do when he shows me something.
Jakub Vrana (in English): He says when he talks to him he don’t understand. Like when you show him, he got it.
Question: Yeah, first game tomorrow. What do you want to show the Capitals tomorrow?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): [Laughs] First game tomorrow, what do you want to show to Capitals tomorrow?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): [Laughing hysterically] Of course I want to do my best!
Jakub Vrana (in English): He said he wants to show as much as he can and do his best of course.
Question: What’s your favourite story about Jakub Vrana?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): What’s you favorite… story? You understand “story?” What is your story?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): What is that?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Dude. Story! How to translate it? Uhh… memories! They want to know if you have any memories with me. Memories! Simply memories with me. Some stories! Yes, stories!
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Tell them that all stories with you are simply beautiful! [laughs]
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Jesus, say something. [smiles]
Question: You have to be honest!
Jakub Vrana (in English): He says nice stories with him, with me!! Nice, funny stories. Yeah.
Question: So can you tell us a good story about Vítek?
Jakub Vrana (in English): I think first story is English, you know. When people ask him something in English and he say “Yeah, yeah” but he doesn’t understand. That’s one story. I don’t know other stories.
Question: How about on the ice? Was there a time you’ve seen him and said “This guy is good enough to play in the NHL.”
Jakub Vrana (in English): I think his kind of style, his kind of skill is good during the tough time. During the game he can save the team. I actually think he has a good chance, of course he need to prove something, everybody must prove something also. But I think he has a good chance.
Question: How did it feel beating him up close over the shoulder today? You beat him with a nice shot top corner.
Jakub Vrana (in English): Shall I tell him? Haha!
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): He’s laughing at you now. He wants me to mention that situation when I “sent you a message” to upper corner from the left. Haha!
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Then say it was luck!
Jakub Vrana (in English): He says it was luck!
Question: Do you expect to go back to the Czech Republic this season? Where do you expect to play?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Well, what do you expect now? Do you want to go back to Czech or you want to stay here, what do you expect?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Well, I’d like to go back to Czech, but next year I’d love to be here.
Jakub Vrana (in English): He says he wanna go back for one year and then the next year he’s gonna be ready [to come over].
Question: Can you ask him what parts of the game he’d like to work on?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Is there anything you think you should work on?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Definitely on high shots, you know, when I go down on my knees, definitely this.
Jakub Vrana (in English): Shots high.
Question: How about handling the puck? Do you like to handle the puck?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Do you like handling the puck?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Yes, I do. I enjoy it.
Jakub Vrana (in English): Yes, he likes it, but what did you ask?
Question: Is that something he needs to work on: handling the puck?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Do you think you should work on it?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Of course I do, because I’m righty but as a goalie I play lefty, so this is kind of hard for me and I must work on this.
Jakub Vrana (in English): He’s a righty so he must learn a little bit more.
Question: One more question. With a smaller ice surface is it harder to get used to the angles?
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): He asked like the ice rink here is smaller than in Europe, is it harder for you?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Well I have to get used to those angles when you’re shooting from sides. It’s a bit harder, yeah.
Jakub Vrana (in Czech): Angles?
Vítek Vanecek (in Czech): Yes, angles, a different way of covering goal posts.
Jakub Vrana (in English): It’s little bit harder when the shots come from the corner. It’s a little bit different.
While the press conference was funny, goaltending coach Mitch Korn explained the problems Vanecek’s language barrier has caused.
“We can’t help him as much as we’d like to help him with his language,” Korn said to reporters, as captured by Monumental Network. “But he’s learning words like ‘left’ and ‘right.’ He’s learned ‘holes’ and ‘no holes’ and the word ‘tight.’ All things we talk about obviously goaltending wise.
“He’s got to learn more English so we can communicate better and help him.”
Part of me will be sad if that happens. Then we’d never see another press conference like this again.
Translation by Darina Sameková. Thanks to Ben Hammock for setting us up with her.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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