Sergei Bobrovsky’s amazing performance in the second half of the 2013 season was enough to give him the Vezina trophy and raise the profile of the Blue Jackets. Without the goaltending that Columbus was able to rely on with Sergei in net, the team would not have had any opportunities or hopes of making the postseason. Their performance in the first half of the season was absolutely dreadful, but thanks to Bob and the rest of the team for finally developing some chemistry and buying into coach Todd Richards formula, CBJ fans were flying high by the end of the season.
This actually marks the first time in several years that the fans in Columbus are looking forward to the upcoming hockey season which is evidenced by the amount of season tickets that the club has sold. The official Blue Jackets website has confirmed that 8,000 full season ticket packages have been sold for the upcoming season. The number of fans has seemed to grow as well. I can’t remember a time when so many Blue Jackets fans were active in the numerous hockey forums on the web. In fact, I’m moved by the growing number of fans and their positive outlook on the upcoming season.
Sergei’s performance couldn’t go unnoticed and he was rewarded with a two-year deal worth $11.25 million. The contract does carry some weight with it, a two-year deal gives Bobrovsky enough time to prove he is not just a “flash in the pan” and he is also trying to earn his next contract, which will probably be a long-term deal.
He basically holds the hopes and expectations of the fans in his hands for the upcoming season.
Bobrovsky was also invited to the Russian Olympic training camp that took place last weekend in Sochi.
Konstantin Barulin, Semyon Varlamov, Vasily Koshechkin and Evgeni Nabokov were the four other goaltenders named. It would seem that Bobrovsky has the best chance at representing his home country in the 2014 Olympics.
Russians playing for and representing their country is the highest honor that every athlete dreams of. This, along with the games being hosted in Sochi next year will add pressure to every Russian player and athlete that will be representing their country.
The Russians had the most formidable ice hockey team in the Olympics between 1956 and 1992. They failed to take gold only two times during that span. They haven’t taken the gold since 1992, but with the games being held in their home country the expectation of a nation to win gold could fall on Bobrovsky.
The Russians have some very elite talent but they haven’t been able to win a medal since the 2002 Olympics. However, goaltenders can steal games, and even medals.
Overall, the pressure for Bobrovsky is two-fold next season.
Optimistic fans expect Bobrovsky to excel under the pressure. His work ethic is intense and his focus isn’t easily shaken. Ever since he entered into the league as an undrafted rookie he has always posted good numbers and continues to improve. If he could post similar numbers, or better, next season then the fans in Columbus might be filling the Nationwide Arena late in April with a goaltender wearing a gold medal around his neck.
However, if he would fall apart under all of the pressure it could be dark times for the fans in Columbus again. The Blue Jackets have added Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton to their lineup but a solid goaltender is crucial in today’s game and Columbus has no proven netminder to step in and fill the role if he were to fall apart.
It’s a thought that many fans try not to acknowledge, including your humble writer.
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