June 30, 2020.
The day that Max Barbashev became a Moncton Wildcat. You could say he was destined to be a Wildcat, but did he ever have massive skates to fill following his brother’s path.
There’s destiny to contend with and then there’s just a crazy amount of pressure and expectations.
From nicknames like “Baby Barbs” to undue pressure of a city and fans expecting the same type of player as his brother, Max Barbashev definitely met and arguably surpassed any unfair expectations that have confronted him for the past three years.
Obviously, there were some growing pains, and time to acclimatize to the city, organization and the league, but Max Barbashev learned to take everything to the “max” during his tenure with the Cats.
Is that tenure over? That’s the question everyone wants to know.
The soft spoken fiercely competitive 19-year-old forward from Moscow, Russia is confident to make the jump to the pro ranks.
“Obviously, I want to play pro next year, but that’s not my decision to make where I’m going to be next year, that’s up to the team to decide. I can’t do anything about that. We will see what’s going to happen, it’s hockey and I’m not sure what’s going.”
“I’m going to have a good summer of training and I see myself as being a good player at the pro level in the next few years. I just have to work, work and work some more,” confessed Barbashev when asked where he sees himself fitting in a the next level.
What did Barbashev learn about himself as a player and person during his time in Moncton?
“Being myself here in Moncton,” said Barbashev.
“I haven’t seen my family, I’ve seen them once this year, but I haven’t been in Russia for three years. I have such a good billet here, but I learned a lot being here by myself.”
“As a player, obviously it’s different hockey than Russia, I learned new things about hockey here in Canada,” said the New York Rangers draft pick.
“It’s a physical game, and a more offensive game, so those two things that’s what I learned here.”
You could look at all the numbers, analytics and his offensive contributions over the years, but it’s the intangibles that Barbashev brought to his game that had the biggest impact on the organization. Barbashev’s leadership qualities and character went to the next level every time he laced them. There’s no question he came into his own in the QMJHL the last two years after a feeling out process during his first foray in the QMJHL during the COVID shorten season of 2020-2021. Barbashev only appeared in 16 games that season, but everyone could tell there was something special there.
It’s difficult for Barbashev to look back and pinpoint his fondest memory with the Cats.
“I would say a good memory for me was being with my teammates, having them around, enjoying being in the different country outside of Russia. That was an entirely new experience for me, especially learning new language, it wasn’t easy to do that but, all the guys really helped me a lot with everything,” said Barbashev.
“I really enjoyed the last three years here in Moncton,” he said proudly.
Barbashev’s heroics this year especially in the playoffs will definitely leave a lasting impression on the organization for years to come.
“It was a pretty good year, not the end that we wanted, but I’m really proud of the guys and the group we had this year,” said a reflective Barbashev.
“I’m so proud of the guys especially with a tough first round against Baie-Comeau. Going seven games was a great experience for the young guys which will help next year.”
If this is it for Barbashev in Moncton was he proud of what he accomplished with the Wildcats?
“We didn’t win anything, but I’m very proud to have played here, you never know I might play here as a twenty next year,.”
“I’m proud to have played here in Moncton for three years.”
“Moncton is a really good organization, I would say Moncton is the best in the CHL, because of the facilities, rink and the fans, it’s an excellent place to play.”
“It was really exciting to be here for three years and be with all of the guys.”
Taking it to the max, that’s Max Barbashev, and that’s exactly why he was so successful in Moncton and why he will have a successful pro career because he knows what it takes to compete and excel under the pressure of high expectations. The Barbashev family have undoubtedly left a lasting impression on the city of Moncton and the Wildcats organization.
He might have played in his brother’s shadow, but Max Barbashev always took to the max when he laced them up.
He proved to everyone especially the critics that he could be a dominant force in the QMJHL while etching out his own path in the game.
The veteran forward wanted to make sure the fans knew how he felt about them and the impact that they have had on his experiences here in Moncton.
“I really want to say thanks to the fans being here every single night, supporting us, they were our 7th player, and I just want to say thank you to all of them.”
Great read Craig . As a fan it is always sad to see these young men move on whether it’s as a 20 year old or those who get the chance to play as a pro Whatever happens in Max Barbashev future or anyone of the Cats we the fans are proud of them . Hope all your dreams are reached and exceeded Max