Shalom Life | August 23, 2014

Interviews with 'Top Jews In Sports'- Eliezer Sherbatov

Day 8 features Israeli-born Canadian hockey player Sherbatov

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: September 9th, 2011 in Culture » Society » Interviews

Interviews with 'Top Jews In Sports'- Eliezer Sherbatov

After the success of both our Top Jewish Artists and Top Jewish Models series, we have decided to bring you “Top Jews In Sports”. Over the next couple weeks, a new sports figure will be featured each day.

Since the previous format of asking all participants the same questions was so popular, we have decided to carry that over to this feature as well. Enjoy.

Eliezer Sherbatov, 19, is an Israeli-born hockey player just coming off his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, one of the three CHL leagues. After moving to Israel from Russia, the Sherbatov family left their home in Rehovot and immigrated to Canada when Sherbatov was just two years old, settling in Montreal. At age six, Sherbatov learned to skate from his mother, who he describes as a pioneer of power skating in Canada. He was playing hockey by seven and grew up idolizing Sergei Federov, Pavel Datsyuk, Pavel Bure and Alexei Kovalev, all Russian-born players.

By the time he was just 13 years old, Sherbatov was representing Israel at the World under-18 Hockey Championship in Bulgaria at the Division III level. Soon after, Sherbatov suffered a scary leg injury that kept him out of hockey for nearly three years, and required three surgeries to repair his nerve. He returned to the Israeli national under-18 team in 2008, and made the jump to the senior team in 2010, which competed at the Division II level of the World Championships. In 2009-10, the 5-foot-7 left winger began playing for Montreal Juniors in QMJHL, putting up 30 points in 62 games. The following season, he split time with the Juniors and the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and scored 15 points in 58 games.While playing for Israel in 2011, Sherbatov became a Youtube sensation when he scored what TSN called, the fourth most creative hockey goal ever, during a game against Greece. Sherbatov says that he takes great pride in competing for Israel internationally and will continue to do so as long as he is playing hockey. Next year, Sherbatov will compete for the Bisons de Neuilly-sur-Marne in the Magnus league . He says that his ultimate goal is to eventually make the NHL.

Sammy Hudes (SH): Was there a moment when you realized this would be a career instead of a hobby or passion?

Eliezer Sherbatov (ES): I knew it when I was around atom or peewee (approximately 10 to 12 years old) and I stopped scoring in Quebec. I knew that I could make something out of hockey and make a career out of it.

SH: In your weak moments, what food item do you allow yourself to pig out on?

ES: I really like pizza.

SH: When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

ES: My brothers have their own mixed martial arts (MMA) school called the Sherbatov MMA Centre and I’ve been doing MMA for about 13 to 14 years. I do that at their gym and this is my favourite hobby. I just go there and train. I do boxing, muay thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. I do MMA and I really love it. I always do it. During the summer I train as a fighter. I do a lot of classes and it helps me a lot for my hockey. It’s the best training.

SH: What’s your favourite movie?

ES: King Arthur and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

SH: Band?

ES: Joe Dassin, the old Jewish French singer.

SH: Book?

ES: Les Enfants du Capitain Grant (In Search of the Castaways), by Jules Verne.

SH: TV Show?

ES: Two and a Half Men with Charlie Sheen and One Tree Hill.

SH: Gadget?

ES: My iPhone 4. Me and my iPhone 4 are one. I’m always on it. It’s the best phone. All the games, everything. I get off everything when I’m on it.

SH: Was there ever a moment when you wanted to switch careers? If so, what career would you have chosen?

ES: Yes, I thought that I would never play hockey again when I got injured and didn’t play hockey for two and a half to three years (two years of bantam and one year of midget). I thought that I would never play again because that’s what the doctor said. But I never gave up and I started training after my operations. It was really the will that I had. I always wanted to play hockey and with my training and my efforts, now I’m good to go. But if I had switched careers, I would have finished my university and done schmatta business with the family.

SH: What do you regard as your biggest achievement?

ES: It’s that I surpassed a lot of negatives outside of me and all the let downs. I did a lot. I was the best scorer in Quebec and the third best in Midget AAA Quebec. We all know this. But what I’m proud of is the most important thing. Even this year, I was let down so much. The two coaches from Montreal and Baie-Comeau didn’t let me play as I should have and I never let go. I never stopped and never thought that I was done. I kept training three times harder and what I’m most proud of is that I surpassed the downfall so now I can go ever higher. I got a professional contract and my hockey career’s starting. That’s my best achievement.

Oh, and my goal. I’m very happy that I was able to do it. First of all, I did it with the Israeli team. I’m very happy and proud that I showcased Israeli hockey. I don’t try to brag or something but I think I deserved it. I’ve been through a lot in my hockey career. I’ve always been a hard worker, I was always the smallest player and it’s like a break for me. It’s like God said “listen, we’ll give you this chance for all your efforts now go ahead and play hockey.” You know, I like to be creative. When I was 13, I did the “Crosby” (the lacrosse move) at the World Championships in Bulgaria. I like to be different than all the other players. I’ve been doing some tricks during my years so when I scored the goal, it wasn’t a surprise because I do it often. It’s not a move that you can just do without practicing. I have a lot of tricks and I like to showcase them. The backhand thing through the legs and then top corner just came like this.

SH: You have unlimited funds to plan your dream vacation. Tell me about it. Who would you bring?

ES: I would buy an Island and bring my family.

SH: Share something about yourself that we may not know.

ES: I am a good piano player. I like to play a lot of piano and I play mostly every day. It’s my other little secret that nobody knows. I’ve been playing for a couple years. My father is a fantastic piano player and he taught me a lot. This is a little secret that only girls know.

SH: What’s your biggest fear?

ES: It’s to make my parents not proud. For all the efforts they put on, from Israel, from Russia to here with $25 in their pockets. They came to Canada with nothing, with no languages. They built all of our careers for me and brothers. My mother trains me in power skating, she taught me how to skate. She taught me everything about skating. My father was my manager, my coach, my everything. Without them, I wouldn’t be playing hockey right now. And for sure, my brothers who are my personal trainers. My fear is just to let them down and not make them proud.

I’m very thankful to all these people and to my agent, Daniel Smajovits as well as my councillor, Angelo Lazarra.

SH: Can you provide a piece of advice for anyone considering entering the world of sports?

ES: First thing, never, never let people tell you that you are not good, you are not this or you are not that. You have to believe in yourself. That’s the most important thing. That’s what I learned. Maybe a lot of people say that but it’s true. If you put your effort, your dedication, your heart [into something] you can do whatever you want but you’ve got to do it. If you let down a little second of your time and say “I’m not going to do it,” you will never succeed. You always have to go for your goal and never stop for a second.

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