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Sergachev trading his hockey stick for a fishing rod during the pause

With his time off, the defenseman has been spending a lot of time out on the water

by Bryan Burns @BBurnsNHL / TampaBayLightning.com

For a player stuck in their team's city during the National Hockey League's pause, there aren't too many places better than Tampa to be quarantined.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn has certainly shown off the city to his Instagram followers - and future NHL free agents - with his Dock Talk series where he cruises around the waterways of Tampa Bay on his jet ski under perfectly cloudless skies en route to the private docks of some of his neighbor teammates to hand deliver gifts.

Oh, and sometimes he spots a dolphin in the water while traveling between houses.

To those watching from those cold, gray, still snowy locales up north, Killorn's idea of self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic must seen like a dream.

Or a slap in the face.

Like his teammate, Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev has also gotten in on the jet ski fun. Sergachev said he just upgraded to a bigger jet ski, once that can store a cooler and fishing rods.

During the NHL pause, he and his girlfriend Liza enjoy fishing, another perk of living in Tampa surrounded by warm waters. 

"I actually just caught a lot of catfish, which is not that fun," Sergachev said of his recent fishing exploits. "The day before, I caught a red fish. It wasn't that big, but it was my first good fish. I'll keep going there and keep trying to catch something good."

Sergachev said he has a secret fishing spot not far from his Harbour Island home where he caught his red fish and sees snook, although he might want to check a tide chart the next time he ventures out to it.

"We went there yesterday, but it was so shallow we (grounded) our jet ski because we went when it was dark," he said, smiling. "I almost broke my jet ski. That was scary."

Sergachev said life hasn't changed that much for him since the NHL paused. Restaurants that he frequents are still open for takeout. He and his girlfriend are able to freely walk outside with his pets. He still rides his bike or rollerblades on Bayshore.

The biggest difference, other than hockey shutting down obviously, is not seeing his teammates at the rink every day.

"That's probably the toughest part," he said, "But other than that, it's pretty much normal life for me."

When the NHL can go back to normal and resume the 2019-20 season is still a mystery. The pause enters its ninth week today. Sergachev has been preparing for the eventual resumption to the season by working out daily, using a plan tailored specifically to his needs by Lightning director of high performance and strength coach Mark Lambert. At the beginning of the pause, the workouts were lighter, more strength based as players and coaches knew the season wouldn't restart for a couple of months.

Now that we're closer to the time when the season would resume if it's able, the workouts have been more geared toward getting players back in playing shape.

But that's easier said than done considering that return date is a constantly moving target.
"It's a little different training. You don't go probably as hard because, like, first couple weeks we didn't know the guidelines, the dates, when and how we're going to play," Sergachev said. "…It's a little tougher when you work out and you don't know when you're going to be playing. I've never done anything like that, so it was a little different."

When the NHL season resumes, it's unknown whether the League will try to play the remainder of the regular season schedule - the Lightning still have 12 regular season games to go - or move directly to the playoffs. That will probably depend on how soon the League is able to get guys back on the ice and through a training camp to reacclimate themselves to skating and their team.

Sergachev said he favors finishing out the regular season - or, if that's not an option, playing exhibition games -- before jumping right into the postseason.

"Just to gain that game shape," he said. "I would like to play some games for sure because jumping right into the playoffs is going to be tough."

Of course, whatever the League decides, Sergachev and his teammates will be ready. The Lightning are in their window of being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. If there's a way to finish out the season, the Bolts want to make sure they're approaching it the same they would a normal postseason so that another promising season filled with potential doesn't fall by the wayside.

"It will be challenging obviously, but as hockey players we're competitive guys and we like challenges," Sergachev said. "So we'll see how it works out."

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