Michael Arace | Sure feels like Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin are leaving Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin wants to spread love and happiness and is genuine in this pursuit. He has an infectious smile and a precocious sense of humor, not to mention a skill set that can pull hockey fans out of their seats.
Sergei Bobrovsky has a soft-spoken gentleness that belies a burning desire to be an all-time great goaltender. He is dedicated, focused and passionate. He is also intensely proud of his record — and sensitive to criticism of it.
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These Blue Jackets stars are in the final seasons of their contracts. They have been approached by management about extensions — and if you think that money and term are subjects that have not been broached, you have to ask yourself: What else have they been talking about? Offers have been made. Of course offers have been made.
Neither Panarin nor Bobovsky has signed an extension.
That is the salient fact.
They showed up at Day 1 of training camp Thursday. Bread was smiling and joking, and Bob was all business. Per usual.
Panarin said, through an interpreter, “I’m here now, here to play hockey. All I’m thinking about is hockey and to have the best season here.”
Bobrovsky said, “New season. New life. Start over from zero. Ready to work. Ready to help this team.”
A small scrum of reporters met them for separate interviews in a room on the floor level of Nationwide Arena. It was the first and probably last chance to talk to Panarin and Bobrovsky about their contract situations.
Panarin opened with an impromptu statement. Here is the nut of it:
This summer, I said I’ll take some time to think about the future and really, nothing’s changed. I want to say I’ve really enjoyed every day here. … I was welcomed here with open arms by pretty much everyone in the organization, and fans. The fans love me and I love the fans. … A long-term contract is essentially a huge part of your life, so it’s really important that we take the time to really decide what the right decision is. … Really, all I’m thinking about is hockey and getting ready to have the best season possible here.”
Panarin, with panache, dodged questions about what he was looking for with his next contract. (“I just want everyone in my life to be healthy, happy, and the same goes for me.”)
Bobrovsky was more direct. He said:
After last season, I told the situation to the management of the Blue Jackets. They know my plans for the season. They know my plans for the future. They know everything. From now on I would ask you not to ask me too many questions about the future. I want to focus on the process. I want to help the team win. I am a Blue Jacket for now.
He did not elaborate. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded by saying the Blue Jackets are trying to do what they can to keep Panarin and Bobrovsky, and the Jackets always strive to do what is right, short- and long-term, for the organization. Per usual.
Neither has signed. That is the salient point.
These guys are so gone.
Bread will stay bubbly and Bob will remain focused. The way big-time pro sports work these days, it probably won’t have much of an impact on locker-room chemistry. Probably.
As for the fans, well, Bread and Bob ask for love and understanding until they identify a greener pasture. They’re living their lives. They’re good dudes. Bread was traded here and is in a tough spot; Bob has been here for a while and been a part of something. The fans will do what the fans will do.
These guys are so gone. That is what all of this feels like. Take all the emotion out of it and it feels like cap space. See ya.