RIVERVIEW, Fla. — Former Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Alekseev is training hard to become a firefighter in Hillsborough County.
Alekseev is a former first-round draft pick for the team, but now he wants to be a first responder.
The 6-foot-5 Russian-born star is training hard in the gym at his Riverview home.
His goal? Full-time firefighter.
“It’s a lot of conditioning,” says the 37-year-old. “Let’s say there’s a tall building. You have to go 40, 50 flights carrying all that equipment. You have to be fit.”
Growing up in Russia, Nikita was in awe of first responders: the uniform, the bravery.
“These guys are the real heroes,” he says. “They’re doing a hard job, and to be part of it would mean a lot to me.”
He graduated from the fire academy and has had EMT training. He’s had to prove himself to firefighters, whose lives are on the line every day.
Hockey skills don’t come in handy in a burning building, although Nikita says there are similarities in the intense focus of both jobs.
“You have to be disciplined, you have to work hard,” he says. “And it’s all about teamwork. You have to be a team player.”
Nikita would like join a fire station in either Hillsborough County or the city of Tampa.
“I want to help people,” he says. “That’s the real excitement for me.”