This is probably something the Columbus Blue Jackets don't want to hear from their Vezina Trophy winning goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky had a difficult time making his decision regarding where he wanted to play this season. Would he return to the KHL with former SKA St. Petersburg teammate Ilya Kovalchuk? Would he continue working to help the Blue Jackets make the playoffs for the second time in their history? His offer from the KHL in June made Jackets fans very concerned.
It took Bob a decent amount of time to make his decision. In an interview with Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Bobrovsky explains his reasoning:
It was a very tough decision. The decision that I made was what I think was right for my career moving forward.
I just focus on myself, on my career, what will be the best way to grow up and to develop myself.
It’s not hard to admit that the NHL is a more challenging league and playing for the Blue Jackets in the high-scoring Eastern Conference will be a workout for Bobrovsky. “Growing experience” probably doesn’t even begin to describe dealing with the teams that he’ll deal with.
In the KHL, however, a goalie of his caliber would be a rock start and automatically the best goaltender in the league. Bobrovsky’s stats last season (.932 GAA and a 2.00 SV%, which are similar to last season’s KHL numbers) would make him one of the best in the league. However, the quality of opponents is not the same, especially if Ilya Kovalchuk is on your team. Bobrovsky wouldn’t necessarily be challenged.
In the end, Bobrovsky chose the challenge plus a payday over just the money, and the Blue Jackets benefited. Is this the answer that John Davidson probably wanted to hear? No, but at this point who cares? They have their goaltender for the next two seasons.
Make no mistake, though – CBJ will have to go through this mess again.