Sometimes, you just have to shake your head.
The Blue Jackets got Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of draft picks.
That's it – just a couple of picks, including an extra fourth-rounder that was a luxury after Scott Howson acquired another fourth-round pick in exchange for Sami Pahlsson. Paul Holmgren, then GM of the Flyers, signed Ilya Bryzgalov on the free agent market the year before (to a nine-year deal!) and thus was prepared to part with Bobrovsky, a young promising goalie who'd taken them to the playoffs.
Great idea. Way to go, Paul.
Much to the Blue Jackets' benefit, that deal was. While we all weren't totally sold at the time, Howson had at least traded for a goaltender who had the potential to challenge Steve Mason. That's basically what they were banking on.
Bobrovsky has almost single-handedly transformed the Blue Jackets and taken them to new heights. He's worth every penny. Even if it's $10 million annually. They are going nowhere without him, and at only 28 years old, Bobrovsky's best years might still be ahead of him. Crazy to think we're talking about a goaltender with two Vezina Trophies and he may only be entering his prime.
So, here's what we need to do – and it's in the title of today's story. Do not, under any circumstance, take Bobrovsky for granted.
Teams search years to find a goaltender, a backbone, a pillar, like Bobrovsky. Even on nights when he's not at his best, he still manages to make a key save or two at the right time to give the Blue Jackets a chance. And other nights, he's chock full of masterful brilliance between the pipes, the type of excellence that forces the entire team to raise its level.
Coaches talk about players who drag their teammates into the fight. Bobrovsky is the type of player who keeps his team in the fight, even when it looks like they've absorbed the knockout punch.
"We were desperate," said Bobrovsky, after the Blue Jackets' 2-1 win in Detroit on Saturday. "We lost a few in a row, so it was a huge game for us and we just had to find a way to win. It doesn't matter how."
It may not matter how to Bobrovsky, but to everyone else, that game was on his shoulders.
The Red Wings peppered him in the first period, were repelled in the second period and broke through once in the third. In overtime, they thought they had the game won on three different occasions, highlighted by the 2-on-0 break between Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou – all of which were Grade-A+ opportunities, all of which were turned aside by Bobrovsky.
Screw the narrative about Bobrovsky and the playoffs. I'd like to see him play behind a slightly better team and get a few more than 14 postseason starts. He's simply too good, and has been for a while, to just forget how to play goal in the playoffs. And before it's all said and done, he may be the best player to ever pull on a Blue Jackets sweater.
Let's appreciate this guy, because if the Blue Jackets are going to make any noise here in the next couple of seasons, he's going to be at the crux of it.
Not much Star Wars to riff on today, other than we're a month out from The Last Jedi.
ONE. FREAKING. MONTH.
There will never be a longer month. I've resigned myself to this.
YOU SHOULD BE READING
- It wasn't a Picasso, but the Blue Jackets snapped their skid on Saturday in Detroit.
- In "What We Learned," the Jackets' offense needs to get going and support Bobrovsky.
- Do the Blue Jackets really need to continue with this 11F/7D roster composition?
- Just in case you want to watch it again...here's the Bobrovsky miracle save.