MONTREAL - Nikita Scherbak's two biggest fans are enjoying everything about their inaugural visit to Montreal.
Scherbak, who is spending the summer in the city training, picked up his parents, Sergey and Evgeniya, at Trudeau Airport on August 2 for a three-week stay.
It marked the pair's first trip to North America since attending the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, when the Canadiens made their now 21-year-old son the 26th-overall selection at Wells Fargo Center.
It's been a journey from Moscow three-plus years in the making, and the Scherbaks are making the most of their time together.
"I thought it would be cool to bring them both over at the same time to hang out as a family. They really love Montreal - the bridges, the waterfront. They love the Old Port, all of the churches and the sculptures, the food and all of the restaurants. It's a beautiful city," said Scherbak, who is relishing the opportunity to give Sergey and Evgeniya the grand tour. "I also brought them to the Bell Sports Complex and the Bell Centre, and I took them to Mont Royal and they took some pictures. They absolutely enjoy the atmosphere."
Last weekend, Scherbak had his parents join him on a trip to Quebec City where he competed in the annual Boot Camp Tournament at the Sainte-Foy Sports Center.
"They went to all of the games. It was unbelievable. My mom had seen me play during my second year in Everett, but my dad hadn't seen me play in North America before," mentioned Scherbak, whose parents were in attendance to watch him compete alongside and against NHLers aplenty in the provincial capital. "It was so nice to have them in the stands."
Even though Scherbak and his parents have checked quite a few items off their must-see list already, a few key points of interest still remain.
"I really want to take them to the Botanical Garden. If the Montreal Impact are playing, I'd like to take them to a game, especially my dad. He used to play soccer. Maybe an Alouettes game, too. There's still so much to do," said Scherbak, who is also hoping to take his mom and dad to Toronto. "I've never been to the Hockey Hall of Fame. I think I should take them. Maybe even a baseball game, I think it would be cool for them to have the experience."
On the home front, meanwhile, Scherbak is a big fan of his mom's culinary creations. But he's still managing to keep his nutrition game strong despite the temptations.
"When my mom first got here, she cooked borscht. It's so good. I probably still have some left. She likes to make a lot of 'mom' meals, but they're not really healthy for you," said Scherbak with a laugh. "I didn't have a choice when I was younger, but now I'm saying, 'Mom, I'll just have a salad and I'll put some balsamic dressing on it with chicken. I've got to eat salad today.'"
There's more to this trip than just sight seeing and home cooking, of course. Scherbak is set to become a full-time Montrealer this year, whether he cracks the Canadiens' roster out of training camp or lands in the AHL with the Rocket in Laval. Ahead of his third pro season, the Russian right winger is excited to be able to have his parents experience life in his new hockey home.
"It's because of them that I'm here in Montreal. I want them to see what it's like. It's cool for them to see how I live," explained Scherbak, who currently resides downtown. "When I'm back home, it's different because I'm living with them and it's my hometown. But when I'm in Montreal, everything is different - different apartment, different roads. They're proud of me and I'm happy they're here. I appreciate everything they did for me. Having them here now is going to give me energy for the year."
With that in mind, Scherbak is hoping to bring Sergey and Evgeniya back to Montreal during the season to see him play in the pros for real.
"That's the goal. I want to bring them to the best hockey town in the NHL, just to see what it's like when the season is going on. I remember we all walked over to the grocery store before the Shawn Mendes concert at the Bell Centre and my mom couldn't believe how many people were outside. I told her, 'Wait until you see the Canadiens play and everyone is wearing their jerseys,'" shared Scherbak. "Even if I play in Laval, it's going to be sold out no matter what. It would be cool to bring them there."