Erat hopes to find silver lining in Olympics

Erat hopes to find silver lining in Olympics
February 4, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Washington Capitals left wing Martin Erat (10), of the Czech Republic, looks on during the first period an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Marty Erat’s season of discontent grew a little brighter Tuesday morning when he was named to the Czech Olympic hockey team as an injury replacement for injured St. Louis Blues center Vladimir Sobotka.

Erat, 32, had made plans to spend the two-week Olympic break preparing for the birth of his second child. His wife, Vera, is due to deliver a daughter on Feb. 25.

“I hope everything is going to go as planned,” Erat said. “I have to just hope my wife is going to be as calm as it gets and hope we’ll get the baby after.”

The Czech team opens play on Feb. 12, with the gold medal game scheduled for Feb. 23.

“It was kind of good news and bad news,” Erat said of his late invitation. “You’re going to go to the Olympics and it’s going to be great to play against the best. For Czech people it’s special to see the Olympics every four years.

“But on the other hand, I’m going to have it in my head that my wife is going to be giving birth to my daughter.

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“You can look at it as you are selfish or whatever. But it may be my last moment when I can play in the Olympics and it’s a huge tournament. Maybe in two months I would be disgusted with myself because I didn’t go.

“I’m going to be spending time with my daughter every single day after that. I hope everybody understands that the Olympics for me is something special.”

This has been a long and frustrating season for Erat. After asking for a trade in November, he’s been in and out of the Capitals lineup. He was a healthy scratch for three games in November and five more in January.

“He didn’t like his situation so he wanted to move, which is his business with George,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said, referring to Caps general manager George McPhee. “His job is to be professional about it. But in saying that it’s hard every day mentally. I think it affected him at times.”

With no goals and 21 assists Erat holds the distinction of having the most assists of any NHL forward without a goal. In fact, if he finishes the season without a goal he will hold the distinction of having the most points of any forward in NHL history without a goal. That record belongs to Dan Bourbonnais, who recorded no goals and 16 assists for the 1983-84 Hartford Whalers.

Oates said he was concerned enough with Erat’s lack of emotion that he gave his agent, Michael Deutsch, a phone call two weeks ago.

“No matter what happens he’s got to try to be as emotionally involved in every game as he can,” Erat said. “As good a player as you are, you can’t go through the motions. You still have to have emotion in the game to be successful.

“I think in the last 10 days or so his game has picked up and because of that he’s picked up a couple more minutes.”

Erat has spent the past two games playing on a top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin and the trio will be on the ice together tonight against the Islanders [7:30, NBCSN].

“He’s got the ability to make plays,” Oates said. “I think when you’re snake bit you are reluctant to shoot when you have a shooting opportunity and it’s our job to try to get him to get through that because we still need that shot.”