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Kaut Says Cuda Coach Tried To Make Him Fight ‘Each Game’, Sharks Deny Claim

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Credit: San Jose Barracuda

Lost in Google Translate.

That’s sometimes what happens when you rely on machine translation to leap from whatever language to English.

So when Martin Kaut’s bombshell interview with Robert Rampa of iDNES hit this morning, I wanted to make sure there was nothing lost in translation before reporting on it.

Did the San Jose Sharks organization really try to make Kaut fight before “each game” for the Barracuda?

What kind of offer did the Sharks give to the pending RFA, before he decided to return home to Czechia and play for HC Dynamo Pardubice?

Kaut Leaves Sharks for Czech Team

To get the 100 percent story, I turned to friend of the site and Czech native Tomas Danicek to help translate.

The San Jose Sharks also released a statement this afternoon, denying Kaut’s claims: “We have been made aware of comments attributed to Martin Kaut stating that he was pressured to deliberately instigate a physical engagement with opposing players on the ice. Let us be unequivocally clear that no such direction was ever given or insinuated by the members of the Sharks or Barracuda coaching or hockey staffs.”

Here’s the most Sharks-relevant portion of Rampa’s interview with Kaut, translated. The full interview is well worth seeking out, as Kaut also got candid about the isolation that he felt in San Jose, and in North America in general. He also discussed still wanting to make a positive impression on the San Jose Sharks in the World Championships but feeling thwarted by Czech national team head coach Kari Jalonen.

“When you score a goal in America, you go back to an apartment that’s not even yours,” Kaut told Rampa about coming home. “Now I’ll be in my own place with my girlfriend, my parents and my brother can come to watch me play, and I can do the same for my brother.”

Robert Rampa: Did they make you fight in the AHL?

Martin Kaut: One of the coaches picked out an opponent for me before each game and I was supposed to fight him.

I remember one time he pointed to [the Calgary Wranglers’] Adam Klapka. Wow, the kid’s 230 pounds, 6-foot-8, and I’m supposed to fight him? My countryman on top of it? Hell no.

RR: What did the coach say when you refused?

MK: He said that’s why I don’t play in the NHL.

I’ve had three concussions and injured my shoulder twice. If I fought the guys they picked for me, I’d go down and still get hurt. He made me fight anyway, it really bothered me.

I would have fought for any good reason, no question! When the game’s sold out, it escalates, or when you’re defending a teammate. But to fight someone just for the sake of it? I’m supposed to be on the ice to score goals.

RR: What if you listened and actually played in the NHL because of it?

MK: I thought about that on the flight home. It is possible, I don’t know.

I told them during the exit interviews. I’ve played against them for five years, they know me and I’ve never fought. Why are they suddenly asking me to do this? They said they wanted to get something more out of me.

I may have made a mistake, but I don’t think fighting was a factor in my NHL career. They’re not as prevalent in hockey anymore.

Plus, with the affiliate, it didn’t feel like we were a team. Each of the youngsters played for themselves.

Guys, I won’t fight for you.

RR: You are leaving North America after five years and 56 games in the NHL.

MK: The Sharks only offered me a two-way contract. We tried to amend it so that I could at least earn more than a hundred thousand dollars in the AHL – [if that worked out], I’d still have the appetite [to try it]. But we couldn’t settle on that.

I didn’t expect a one-way, I know I didn’t score enough points to deserve that, but this offer was disappointing. My agent advised me to try one more season, but I couldn’t handle another year on the farm. In Colorado, I had requested a trade for two years because of that.

Kaut Will Miss Colorado, Just Wanted More Opportunity

RR: The Avalanche wouldn’t let you go?

MK: They always said no, that they’d need me. But in fairness, there was no room for me in Colorado’s first three forward lines. Certainly not the season before last, when they won the Stanley Cup.

RR: The trade to San Jose finally came through. And you did well.

MK: Yeah! Nine games, five points. For the first time in my time in America, I felt like I have what it takes to make it in the NHL. I played with [Tomas Hertl], everything was great.

Then, all of a sudden, they told me the others had to get a chance, and they sent me down. That pissed me off. In my place, there appeared players who were previously healthy scratches on the farm. I didn’t understand it.

Read the rest of the Martin Kaut interview here.

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