In February, ahead of the NHL trade deadline, the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempný from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a third-round pick at the 2018 NHL Draft.
The trade came hot on the heels of a devastating 7-1 loss to Chicago, which prompted then-head coach Barry Trotz to call Kempný and reassure him. “I told him we’re not as bad as that game in Chicago. He was real happy about that.”
Adding Kempny to the lineup has been credited as one of the major reasons for turning the Capitals’ season around — though it wasn’t known then that that would mean earning their first Stanley Cup.
As much as Kempny gave to the Capitals on that road to their first championship, so to did the Capitals give back to him. In a conversation with TV Nova in the Czech Republic, Kempny called the Capitals his salvation.