TAMPA — Growing up in Nizhnekamsk, Russia, Mikhail Sergachev had a list of places he wanted to see.
Paris, Rome and London topped the list.
Now, the 21-year-old has one left to check off. And a new list.
The Lightning defenseman spends his offseason, as well as breaks during the season, traveling. This summer he and his girlfriend Liza Fedotova have been to Greece, Paris and the Maldives.
“As Russians we’re different from (Americans), and Italians are different, French, everyone,” Sergachev said. “You meet different people and see how they live and you become a better person.”
During the bye week last season they went to Turks and Caicos. Last offseason, they toured Italy, visiting Rome, Florence and Venice.
It all sounds so glamorous. But you also could see a version where someone finished a job that has him on a plane every few days, sometimes five flights in a week, and just wants to stay in one place. Not Sergachev.
“It’s a different kind of travel,” Sergachev said. “I like to go see old cities, with different kinds of buildings and meet people.”
He takes advantage of the work travel, too. Sergachev doesn’t explore cities to the same extent, but nor is he one to go from hotel to rink and back. He, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy might skip the team bus back to the hotel in favor of something else in the city.
“We leave our bags in the room and go get coffee, walk around,” Sergachev said. “I like New York, Vancouver, Boston. I like a lot of cities.”
In the offseason, Moscow is home. He bought a home there last year and trains in Moscow, about 650 miles from his hometown, which also sets up well as a base for his travel.
This offseason brought Sergachev the best vacation of his life. He and Fedotova visited Maldives in June and “it was truly amazing.”
Maldives offers good food, great snorkeling and diving sites with clear water and beautiful fish, stunning views of the other islands. The couple rode bikes to explore the area and stayed in a bungalow on silts over the water.
A year ago, the trip to Italy stood out. Sergachev loved Rome with its mix of ancient, and Renaissance attractions. Fedotova preferred the way Florence took them back into the more modern past. Both enjoyed Venice.
“Venice is just crazy how the city is built,” Sergachev said. “How is it floating? It’s amazing to see that.”
Before these past two years, Sergachev had stayed closer to home with trips to Cyprus and Turkey, both a few hours’ flight from Moscow. Hockey had taken him to some of Europe’s hockey countries — like Sweden, Slovakia, the Czech Republic—and even the States and Canada at a relatively young age. Now, he enjoys the opportunity to take himself to farther-flung, no-hockey-connection places.
He’s planning a trip to London, the last city remaining from his childhood list. He and Fedotova will spend four days seeing the sights like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.
There’s also that new list.
Sergachev wants to go back to Switzerland (another hockey destination) and see it from a new angle. He’d rent a car and drive through the Alps, exploring villages, climb mountains and meet new people.
During this season’s bye week, he and Fedotova might explore Sergachev’s newest hobby: surfing.
“My coach says I’m pretty good and should try Costa Rica,” he said. “That’s not too far from us.”