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Kempny optimistic he'll be ready for Capitals opener

Defenseman had surgery to repair torn right hamstring in April

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Michal Kempny isn't sure if he'll be able to participate at the start of training camp for the Washington Capitals on Sept. 13, but the defenseman remains optimistic he'll be ready for the season opener at the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 2.

Kempny is recovering from a torn right hamstring he sustained against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 20. He had surgery on April 2 and his recovery was expected to take 4-6 months.

"If I'm going to make training camp, it would be great," Kempny said after skating and working out at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday. "If not, my goal and my focus is to be ready for the season. First game, be healthy, be 100 percent. I don't want to have some problems with it, so I've got to take it step by step, listen to our doctors and our treatment guys. But I'm working hard every day. A lot of work is behind me, a lot of work is ahead of me.

"Probably I still need some time, but I'm getting closer. So we'll see."

Kempy, who will turn 29 on Sept. 8, set NHL career highs in goals (six), assists (19) and points (25) in 71 games last season before he was injured while wrestling with Lightning forward Cedric Paquette.

Since returning from his native Czech Republic two weeks ago, Kempny has been skating and working out under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish and the Capitals training staff.

"I feel better and better," Kempny said. "But I didn't do too much skating during the summer because of the leg. It's a slow process. I think my skating is improving and I've just got to stick with it."

Kempny rode the stationary bicycle and ran stairs to build his conditioning when he was home in the Czech Republic but has stepped up everything since returning to the Washington area.

"Last week was pretty hard for me," he said. "It was my first week of every day skating and every day working out, so I was pretty sore after the whole week. But we had a couple days off. After every workout, it's a little sore, tight. I can still feel it, but it's something that's normal after the injury. So it's nothing that is bad. It just takes some time."

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