In case you missed the news earlier this summer, former 1st round draft pick (26th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft) Nikita Scherbak was released from his contract by the Los Angeles Kings and signed a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL in his native Russia.
The former Kings and Montreal Canadiens forward managed only six goals and eight points in 37 NHL games split between the two clubs, but he still feels that it was his nationality and not his play that ultimately led to him leaving North America.
In an interview with Russian language Sport24, Scherbak has some harsh words for former NHL coaches Michel Therrien and Willie Desjardins, claiming that they unfairly characterized him based on his nationality.
Check out some of these translated quotes:
“When I spent my first year with Therrien, any mistake would lead to shouting, there was a lot of pressure. It may be good for a young player, on one hand, but many can’t handle this and start to fear mistakes even before practices. A player shouldn’t feel like this. There were times when you’d meet the coach in the corridor and wouldn’t know whether to say hello or to nod your head, or what… I’d say hello anyway, but it was uncomfortable and not a very pleasant feeling. I don’t want to feel like this again.”
“I really didn’t like the situation that was happening in Los Angeles, and there were other difficulties before that, too. I didn’t get off to a good start in Montreal, I wasn’t allowed to play. I trained, I endured, but in the end my nerves got the best of me, and I asked for a trade. They couldn’t get a trade done so they put me on waivers.
“I personally talked to the GM, told him everything”, he said. “Maybe, it wasn’t pleasant for him and me both, but at that time it was the right decision. But then, with the Kings, everything turned out unlike I had planned. They didn’t treat me all that well. I didn’t feel like they were taking care of me, like they were counting on my being in the lineup. I was sent to the farm team, and there, chaos began. It was a difficult time for me…”
Sherbak was clearly most upset with how he was treated by Habs GM Marc Bergevin, check out this story about how Bergevin wouldn’t let Scherbak live in downtown Montreal:
“I don’t think everyone is treated this way. This was the [GM Marc] Bergevin’s treatment of me. Here is another story: I wanted to rent a place downtown, because I knew I wouldn’t spend the entire season in the farm team. The GM asked me before the season where I planned to live, and I told him. “No, you will live in Laval”, I was told. So, I spent the entire season shuttling between Laval and the [Canadiens] practices. The commute was one hour each way.
It gets worse… apparently speaking Russian was outlawed by the team’s coaching and/or management staff:
“How many francophones were in the team, the Quebec boys, who only speak French? They never even try to speak English in the room. So, they can speak French without problems, but we can’t speak Russian. All Russians were kind and open guys: Markov, Yemelin… Nobody every heard anyone speak bad about them. Why couldn’t we speak Russian? If they want to help me, what’s wrong with that?”
Yikes… not a good look for either franchise.