Mikhail Grabovski, a 10-year NHL veteran whose oldest son plays at the FCBEscola in Toronto, accompanied the Barça Academy team to this spring’s FCBEscola International Tournament and took the time out to pay a visit to the FC Barcelona ice hockey team.
“We watch a lot of soccer right now,” he said. “We like Messi and Suárez, and that’s why [my son] picked Barcelona. That’s why we are here.”
When Grabovski arrived at the Tournament, however, he didn’t even know Barça had an ice hockey team.
“For me, it was a little bit of a surprise,” he said. “But, I know that Spanish people, Catalonian people, like sports, like basketball, handball and soccer.”
Grabovski — who has played for the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals, the New York Islanders, and the Vegas Golden Knights — was born in Potsdam, Germany and grew up in Belarus, and is a big fan of football, with Barça being among his favorite teams.
“Barcelona is one of the best clubs in the world,” he said. “And for me, when I grew up, it was one of my favorite teams.”
After the Tournament, Grabovski dropped in on the Barça ice hockey team and was given his own, personalized Barça hockey jersey.
“It’s very special,” he said.