Martin Erat and the Czech Republic team had just been eliminated from the Olympic tournament in Sochi in a 5-2 quarterfinal loss to the United States on Feb. 19 when the veteran forward found his phone in the dressing room and received news that pushed the defeat from his mind.
A family friend had called to tell Erat that his wife, Vera, had given birth to their second child – a daughter named Victoria Bella – six days before her due date and that both were doing well.
“At first we lost in quarterfinal it was hard to swallow and after when I got the news it put a smile on my face,” Erat said Tuesday. He boarded the first charter out of Sochi the next day and, after stops in Newark and Washington, Erat made it to Nashville on Friday and spent a few days with his wife, newborn daughter and two-year-old son Sebastian.
“It’s been a lot of miles,” Erat said. “But it was great to be there for a couple days and see her.”
Erat recorded a goal – his first non-empty net tally of the season in any setting – for the Czech Republic in the preliminary round against Latvia and said that the tournament provided a fresh perspective on a rough year and a “boost for my confidence.”
As for the entire Olympic experience, Erat was complimentary of Sochi and the environment as a whole. Aside from the Czech Republic’s early elimination, he had no complaints.
“Everybody scared us, everybody thought how it’s going to be there but I can’t say anything but good things,” Erat said. “It was very organized, beautiful new arenas open there and the Olympic village was great for us as well.”
Erat, like the rest of the Capitals’ Olympians, now must find a way to elevate and refocus their games so that the team can play its way into the postseason. He acknowledged that given the birth of his daughter on top of the Olympic strain made it tough to get back in the groove immediately, but Erat knows the stakes are high for the Capitals down the stretch.
“It’s for real and now, it’s back on and you’ve got a couple days to think about it to go back to the season and make a playoff push,” Erat said. “It’s going to be a hard situation for us. If we want to do some damage in the playoffs we have to first get there.”