MONTREAL - When it comes to European football, Tomas Tatar is a proud Bayern Munich supporter.
The 28-year-old forward has been cheering for the winningest club in German soccer history since childhood.
Why Bayern Munich?
"They were doing really well when I was growing up. I've been a fan since I was nine or 10 years old. A lot of their games were also being shown on TV in Slovakia. They were also one of the biggest teams close to my hometown. Munich is just a six-hour drive away," explained Tatar, on the seven-time reigning Bundesliga champions. "I remember being given a jersey when I was younger. I liked the colors and the fact they were so close, so I became a fan."
His jersey collection has certainly grown over the years. By his count, Tatar currently boasts five in his collection.
"I have David Alaba, Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and Franck Ribery," revealed the eight-year NHL veteran, whose favorite Bayern alums include goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn, and striker, Giovane Elber, among others. "I really became a huge fan when Robben and Ribery came to the team, but they've always played beautiful football and they score a lot of goals. It's fun to watch them."
In addition to catching games on TV at every opportunity, of course, Tatar has been fortunate enough to see the squad play live on several occasions.
"I've been to Allianz Arena in Munich four or five times. The atmosphere is unreal. It's a huge stadium. I really, really like the way the German fans cheer," mentioned Tatar. "I've also watched them play in Prague. It was the 2013 UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea. We won on penalties. It was really cool."
As was being in the Allianz Arena stands with his brother, Tibor, for the club's 2015 Audi Cup victory over Spanish League powerhouse, Real Madrid.
Likewise, Tatar lists Bayern's triumphant 2013 UEFA Champions League run as a special memory, along with their 10-2 win on aggregate over Arsenal in the tournament's Round of 16 back in 2017.
On Wednesday, Tatar jokingly shared a scoresheet from that two-game set that officially eliminated Arsenal from the annual competition.
The chirp was directed at Arsenal superfan, Artturi Lehkonen, ahead of a friendly clash between the two squads in California as part of the International Champions Cup.
Tatar and Lehkonen aren't the only players who've been poking fun at one another over their soccer allegiances so far this summer.
Brendan Gallagher, who supports Tottenham Hotspur, and even football aficionado, Tomas Plekanec, have joined the conversation as well.
"We're all just trying to watch how our teams are doing. There's nothing better than when those teams are playing each other. We have all kinds of bets, all kinds of chirping. It's fun stuff in the locker room. I think other teammates are enjoying it, too," said Tatar. "Guys are adding to the conversation. It's the same for American football during the season. Every Sunday, we're talking about the games."
Tatar has nothing against Arsenal, though. He has a real soft spot for them, which might have something to do with his longstanding friendship with former Arsenal goalkeeper, Petr Čech.
"I'm actually just teasing Lehky. I was always an Arsenal fan as well, but I was rooting for Bayern a little more. If I could maybe take Arsenal, that would be my second choice. I just want to give it to Lehky, so he knows that Bayern is one step ahead," cracked Tatar, who relishes causing friction in "The Alliance" between Lehkonen and Gallagher. "That's what I love the most about the chirping with Gally and Lehky, stir the pot and get them against each other so I have it easier in two-touch."