23.11.18 Derek O´Brien

Uwe Krupp: “It’s been really difficult, we have 10 players out”

The season started well but, after a rash of injuries, Sparta lost three games in a row against teams from the lower half of the league, falling from first place to fifth. In the midst of that, the team swapped defencemen with Vítkovice, sending Slovene Blaž Gregorc in exchange for Swede Erik de la Rose. Before Friday’s game in Zlín, Coach UWE KRUPP spoke about the current situation facing the team.

I guess it goes without saying that this is a difficult time for the team right now...
It’s been really difficult, but you’re probably going to get one of those situations every year where you have a lot of adversity, and we’re hitting that right now. Right now, we have nine players out and, at best, three of them might come back soon. It’s difficult to play when you have that many injuries.

Which three players are those?
I believe Beran, Piskáček and Košťálek are all close to coming back. But the other guys, Klimek will be back at Christmas at the earliest, Smejkal will also be out at least four weeks, and those are the best puck controllers on our team. Then Pavelka, Kalina and Černoch will also be out three to four weeks, and if we want to count Přibyl, who hasn’t played since the start of the season, that’s 10 guys out of the lineup.

What is the situation with Daniel Přibyl?
As far as I know, he is in treatment. In his case, there have been some unpleasant circumstances with his knee. It’s been a really difficult time for him. I think it can be worked out eventually, but it’s going to take significantly more time than we first thought.

So how do you manage with that many guys out?
We go with the guys who can stand in their skates, add some of the young guys in there and we go play, but it’s a completely different team. It’s been especially hard on defence, where Blain and Delisle are the only two healthy guys we have left from our original lineup – we’re missing four of our top six.

Will Erik de la Rose play in Zlín on Friday?
Yes! Finally, something positive to say (smiling). Yes, he’s been good in practices and he’s a good body for us to have right now.

Can you say anything about how the trade with Vítkovice transpired?
I don’t think I’d had more meetings with any player than with Blaž. The bottom line was that he wasn’t happy with the amount of ice time that he got. He wanted a bigger role and I think he’s a good player, but we have other players that can play that role so he asked to be moved. As for Erik, he had a good year last year in Jihlava and then he had an injury at the start of this season and just never got going in Vítkovice. So, the two teams got together and I think it’s a good deal for both players and for both teams.

With everything that’s going on, how is the current mood in the dressing room?
The mood is not bad, but everyone is a little upset. This is very different from the beginning of the season. There’s an expectation to win, so everyone’s a bit on edge. But I’d rather have that than guys who just laugh and joke around when we lose – then I’d be pissed off. Everyone here wants to win, so it´s important to work hard in practice and get through this, and I believe we will. Eventually, the injured players will return and we’ll get back to our form from the beginning of the season.

Are there any positives you can take from the last few games?
The last two games, I thought our penalty killing was better. We were a bit more aggressive, better on loose pucks, clearing the zone better. The power play was okay last game – it gave us a chance to get back in the game. We didn’t win the game, but we came back after being down 3-0 to tie it, then got a fluky goal against and the floodgates opened. I think the work ethic on the team but we need to play a little bit better, which is a good challenge.

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