MONTREAL - The people Tomas Tatar has in his corner make having a career year like this one even more special.
Here in the city, his girlfriend Veronicka Vevuska is clearly his biggest fan, and the 28-year-old left-winger considers himself lucky to have her by his side through the daily grind of a long NHL season.
"She's been really helpful so far, especially on game days," said Tatar, who boasts 25 goals, along with a career-high 33 assists and 58 points in 78 games during his first year with the Canadiens. "Emotional support, too. It's always nice to have somebody you can talk to."
Tatar receives his fair share of support from his family members back home in Slovakia, of course.
Even though his mother, Maria, and elder brothers, Marek and Tibor, reside some 6,500 kilometers away, Tatar knows they're all behind him every step of the way.
"That's one of the biggest presents for the whole family is when you see someone of your blood doing well. It doesn't have to be necessarily hockey. But, for me it's hockey and I think they're extremely happy how things are going for us and here in Montreal," said Tatar. "I think they're enjoying watching our games."
Video: FLA@MTL: Shaw sets up Tatar from behind the net
Marek, 45, and Tibor, 41, are both former hockey players, who played an important part in the Habs' sniper choosing to make hockey his profession.
Marek's most productive years on the ice actually came in Canada when he was plying his trade in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) as a member of the Olds Grizzlys in the early 1990s. He also played professionally in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
For his part, Tibor suited up in Slovakia, Iceland, Romania and Spain.
"When you're five or seven years old and you go watch a game where there are 5,000 people chanting your name, it's kind of cool," said Tatar. "I think that's how I figured out I wanted to be a hockey player. I just thought it's the coolest thing ever. When you're a kid, you notice this little stuff and these kinds of things probably bring you closer to the game."
According to the eight-year NHL veteran, the relationship the trio share has always remained close, and he wholeheartedly appreciates their backing.
"They've supported me since I was a little kid. Help with the equipment, chipping in on some stuff and giving me basic hockey advice. They know the game. We talk a lot after games, what they saw, how they thought we were doing. "They might notice some things that I could be better on," explained Tatar. They've always been a big help through my career and they're still helpful. They come to see me probably twice a year. They love to watch the games."
While Marek has been to Montreal, Tibor hasn't yet had a chance to make the trip. But, they're both big-time fans of the CH.
"I think they really like the atmosphere. They like the passion of Canadiens fans," said Tatar. "Marek really liked coming to Montreal just to see how everyone's living with the hockey."
Tatar's mom also made the trek to Quebec early in the year and clicked with the city almost immediately.
"She really liked the European culture here and the language. She probably picked up more French than I did in such a short period of time. She was here at the start of the season and walked around. I don't think she was walking anywhere else this confident outside of Montreal," said Tatar. "I can't find the answer why, but she was really independent. She doesn't speak English, but for some reason she was just walking around and taking taxis. I was really surprised."
Whatever the reason for Maria's comfort level in Montreal, we're just really happy to hear it.
Tatar can't say enough about the role she has played in helping him become the player and person he is today.
"She played a huge part. I think she's done everything for me to be successful from an early age. Getting all the food, the equipment, she was working around her schedule supporting me. I owe her a lot," praised Tatar. "I'm trying to give her back as much as I can right now so she can enjoy her life."
It's easy to see just how much Tatar's loved ones really mean to him, both in Montreal and overseas.
"Family is important for everybody," concluded Tatar. "Every family should stick together and family is probably the best thing you can find in the world."