MONTREAL - Tomas Tatar is enjoying a well-deserved vacation right now, but he'll be sporting the colors of his hometown Dubnica Wild Kings again upon his return.
It was just last week that Tatar made his season debut for the inline hockey contingent, with whom he has proudly claimed three Slovak League titles.
According to Wild Kings vice president and general manager, Roman Trencan, the 28-year-old forward is always a welcome addition to the squad during the NHL offseason.
"His technical skills with inline hockey are just as great as they are on the ice. His incredibly quick legs, hands and thinking make him irreplaceable," praised Trencan, who has known Tatar and his elder brothers, Marek and Tibor, for years as a Dubnica nad Váhom resident himself. "These days, it's rare to find a player with such a winning character like he has. I appreciate that a hockey player of his caliber is always available to us."
Tatar's first season with the Wild Kings was in 2010, but he actually got into the sport a couple of years earlier than that.
"It's something I've been doing for 11 years. It's something I do in the summer. Our team is one of the most successful teams in Slovakia. I really like to do it. It's a non-contact sport where there's a lot of skill. There are a lot of players from different hockey leagues in Slovakia that play in it and there are a lot of professional athletes," explained Tatar. "We're actually old friends from different towns who kind of put the League together. We've had players like Marian Hossa in the League, Pavol Demitra and Lubomir Visnovsky. It's a big thing in Slovakia and I'm really happy that I could be a part of it."
Demitra is the player Tatar credits with really introducing him to the game over a decade ago, inviting him to give it a shot. And it has since become one of his favorite offseason activities.
"When I was younger, the older guys took me over. I used to play a lot of tennis and street hockey, but this is the closest thing to a real hockey game. You play 4-on-4. It's good for a sweat. It's good to get the heart rate up. It's good for skills and stickhandling," mentioned Tatar. "You're still playing with a puck, so it's pretty close to hockey. Even though the puck is made of plastic and jumps around a lot, it's doable. It's just a really good addition for summer training."
While the eight-year NHL veteran added inline hockey to his regimen at first "as something fun to do and stay in shape doing something I enjoy," it eventually became far more significant to him. Winning can do that, of course.
"As the League was getting bigger and bigger, it became really competitive," said Tatar. "The guys are good. I go play whenever I can, but I'll be back for the playoffs."
The Wild Kings aren't strangers to achieving success. They boast six League championships, with their most recent title coming back in 2017.
And there's nothing Trencan would like more than to hoist another championship trophy with Tatar's help.
"Hopefully, 2019 will also be successful," concluded Trencan, who captains the local side as well. "The best memories I have of playing with Tomas are from those Finals matches, but almost every experience with him is unforgettable."