Last Wednesday night was an emotional one for a pair of Capitals Olympians.
While Alex Ovechkin received word after Russia’s quarterfinal loss to Finland that his father, Mikhail, was recovering from heart surgery in a Sochi hospital, Capitals teammate Marty Erat received a phone call telling him his wife, Vera, had just given birth to a baby girl in Nashville, six days before her due date.
The CzechRepublic had just been eliminated by the Americans in the other quarterfinal game when Erat received a phone message that his wife, Vera, had delivered a healthy gir named Victoria Bella.
“Of course, the loss was hard to swallow,” Erat said, “but after I got the news it put a smile on my face.”
It also set into motion an exhausting travel schedule for the Caps’ 32-year-old left wing. The Czechs’ game against the U.S. ended at around 12:30 a.m. in Sochi and by the time all of the players’ equipment was packed onto the plane, it wasn’t until 8:30 a.m. the Czech team flight made its way back to Newark, N.J.
Erat caught a flight from Newark to Washington so that his equipment could dry out, but when his flight from D.C. to Nashville was canceled, he was forced to spend Thursday night in Washington and caught a Friday morning flight to Nashville to see his family.
Erat and his wife also have a 2-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 said that even though he was hoping to be in Nashville for the birth of his daughter, he was happy with his decision to compete in his third Olympic Games. Asked if he would have stayed in Sochi if the Czechs had beaten the Americans to move on to the medal round, Erat said he would have.
“I talked about it with my wife,” he said. “When my daughter’s 20 years old I’ll ask her if she would have changed it and she would probably say, ‘Daddy, you did the right thing.’”
Erat said that despite all of the pre-Olympic concerns, he enjoyed his 11-day stay in Sochi.
“I know everybody didn’t know how it was going to be there, but I can’t saying anything but good things,” he said. “It was very organized. It was a beautiful new arena they opened there.
“The Olympic village was good as well. It’s too bad we lost in the quarterfinal, but everything else was an unbelievable experience.”
Erat finished the tournament with one goal in five games while averaging just over 13 minutes a game. He began the tournament playing alongside NHL veterans Patrik Elias and Martin Hanzal.
“I felt great there the whole tournament,” Erat said. “I played with different players and I think it boosted my confidence a little bit.”
Erat also scored his first goal of the season for the Capitals in the game preceding the Olympic break and on Tuesday he was back on a top line with Olympians Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin.
He said the Caps need to direct their focus on the remaining 23 games of the regular season if they hope to get into the playoffs.
“This is for real,” he 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.”