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Exit Day live updates: Blue Jackets talk about end of season

Columbus recaps season before breaking up for summer

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

Two days after their season ended with a loss to the Boston Bruins in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Wednesday was a busy day at Nationwide Arena.

Blue Jackets players filtered through to talk about the end of the season, the first-round playoff victory, their summer plans as well as any other notes of interest.

In addition, head coach John Tortorella spoke around noon, while general manager Jarmo Kekalainen met with reporters in an interview that was livestreamed.

Updates appeared throughout the day here on BlueJackets.com.

EXIT DAY: See video, tweets and more from Blue Jackets' exit day

Sergei Bobrovsky: The Blue Jackets netminder repeated what he said after Game 6 vs. Boston when asked about his plans in free agency, saying he doesn't yet have any answers to questions about his contract situation.

The two-time Vezina-winning goalie did dispel any rumors that the relationship between himself and the franchise is fractured in any way.

"No, I don't feel that way," he said. "There were some ups and downs as always in that process, but we said thank you to each other. It's good."

One place Bobrovsky does believe he's going: The Maldives, a tropical getaway in the Indian Ocean where he can relax now that the season is over.

"I am probably going to go to The Maldives for 10 days at least," he said. "I love that place. It gives me good rest, it's quiet, good food, I'll spend some time with my wife, just enjoy myself a little bit, relax and let go."

Matt Duchene: The trade deadline acqusition clearly enjoyed his two-plus months with the Blue Jackets, saying he was "grateful" multiple times for the chance to play with the team down the stretch and help it to its first playoff series victory.

But he's still far away from making up his mind where he will play next season as he now enters unrestricted free agency. He will consider the Blue Jackets though, he said.

"I've really enjoyed my time here and we will definitely be talking with Jarmo and the Blue Jackets and seeing what is in store," Duchene said. 

He doesn't plan to rush into any decision, and the center figures to be one of the top free agents on the market. With that in mind, he's going to make sure he makes what he feels is the right choice, calling it a "hockey decision" but knowing his wife and young son will also be key considerations.

"It's a big moment in my life, probably the biggest decision I'll ever have to make," Duchene said. "It's definitely the biggest I've made to this point. I'm definitely going to take my time and talk to my family and my representation and figure out what is best."

Ryan Dzingel: Dzingel, who like Duchene came over from Ottawa at the trade deadline and like Duchene is an unrestricted free agent, said he also will need time to come to a decision. 

In the meantime, what lingers is how close the Blue Jackets were to doing something special.

"I have a lot I have to think about," he said. "There's so many things you don't get to think about, you just play and it takes a while to let it all settle in so you really get to see what happened a month or two into the summer and assess everything. It's been a crazy few months and it was a fun ride.

"I think we could've done more. That's the biggest thing is I feel like I could've done more, too, and that's the hardest thing. You never want to leave anything on the table. It's going to burn for a little while and we'll work hard on that this summer."

Ryan Murray: The defenseman was in the midst of the best season of his career when he left the ice during a Feb. 18 game vs. Tampa Bay.

He figured he'd be back quickly.

"A day or two after, I was back riding the bike and I kind of thought it was something I tweaked," Murray said. 

Obviously, that wasn't the case. Murray never returned to the team, missing the entire stretch and playoff runs. He declined to say what was injured but said it was obviously frustrating to see his season end the way it did.

"Obviously (the rehab) took longer than that. It was a little more complicated than that," he said. "Toward the end of the season, I started feeling a lot better and got back on the ice and was feeling really good. The day we lost out (Monday), we were talking with the training staff about starting to crank it up again. That's what's the worst part -- you're just getting back and everything ends."

Murray said he expects to be 100 percent, though, going into next year and will return to Columbus in June to be checked out by the team medical staff.  

Josh Anderson: The physical Blue Jackets forward said he battled a shoulder injury suffered in Game 2 of the Boston series that impacted his game during the stretch run of the series.

"It's very difficult, but it is what it is," he said. "You have to battle through injuries at some point during the year. It's unfortunate that it happened to me early in the series. A big part of my game is being physical and I tried to be as physical as I could battling the injury I had, but it is what it is."

Anderson also said he passed concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head late in the second period of Game 6 from Charlie McAvoy, but when asked how he felt in the third period, he replied, "Not great."

As for the hit itself, Anderson said, "Obviously it was a hit to the head. The referees made a call. But I mean, it's hockey. It happened so fast. I don't think he was trying to hit me in the head. It just happened."

John Tortorella: The Blue Jackets head coach started his 20-minute recap of the season by delivering a message to the Columbus fan base.

"I want to thank the community as far as just the incredible support that we have had here during the playoff run and quite honestly in the regular season when we were going up and down," he said. "I can't thank the community enough as far as what it did for our hockey club, what that building was like.

"I don't know how to put it except to say thank you. I know it's a bit of a letdown that we're not playing here. I do think Game 6 was our best game of the series and I wish we could be out there again with the group, with our community here, but hopefully we'll keep on building and have more nights like that.

"But it's just so much appreciated. I speak for my players, I speak for the organization and I speak for myself: It was just incredible, so thank you."

Markus Nutivaara: The Finnish defenseman said a torn oblique on his left side, suffered when he was hit into the boards late in Game 2 of the opening series vs. Tampa Bay by Nikita Kucherov, is what kept him from the last eight games of the playoffs.

"That was so hard," Nutivaara said about missing the time. "It's still hard thinking about what I missed. That's the best time to be out there and you're just watching outside. It's hard."

The prognosis was he'd miss four to six weeks, so Nutivaara was nearing a return. "I was getting hyped that I could get back in. Now I have to wait."

He said he could do everything on cruise control but was still feeling pain when he'd try to get to the level of playing in a game.

Riley Nash: Nash had formed a key part of the Jackets' playoff identity on his line with Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky through the first seven games, but he missed the last three with what had been an undisclosed injury.

That injury is now disclosed -- a shoulder injury that he said will require about a month or so of rehab but likely not surgery. He said it was a cumulative injury that started with the crunching shot he took from Zdeno Chara early in Game 2 and kept getting worse as the games went by.

"It wasn't even big hits, it was just kind of plays in the corner," he said. "I couldn't really move it a whole lot. I was hoping maybe a couple more days, if we got to Game 7 maybe it was a go."

Nash will spend summer in Santa Monica and is getting married this summer.

"Now I have to decide what color flowers I like, which is right up my alley," he joked. "I was kind of hoping we'd keep playing for a while."

Zach Werenski: Werenski is in a much different boat than he was last summer when he went into the offseason nursing the shoulder injury that impacted him all campaign.

This year, the defenseman said he's healthy, so the next few months -- which he will split between Columbus and his native Michigan -- will be about rest before he ramps up training in July.

In addition, he is a restricted free agent this offseason but said he hasn't begun thinking about what negotiations with the Blue Jackets will be like. 

"I haven't thought about it, honestly," he said. "Obviously that's something we're going to have to get done here this summer, but I'm not worried about it at all."

Werenski said the adrupt end to the season is making it hard to watch the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I'm sure I'll put (the games) on. I won't pay attention as closely as I was," he said. "I know there's a Game 7 tonight. I probably won't watch it. If I'm doing nothing, hanging out, I'll probably put it on to watch."

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