Feeling "replaced" is never easy for any player (let alone a goaltender) and Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark could see it in Sergei Bobrovsky.
Fresh off a stellar campaign with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010-11, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren instigated a complete organizational makeover. First, team captain Mike Richards and scoring center Jeff Carter were sent packing in exchange for prospects and draft picks.
Holgmren used the spare salary cap space to sign free agent Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract, sending Bobrovsky down a rung on the organizational ladder. He had just won 28 games for the Flyers and posted a 2.59 goals-against average, but instead, would be relegated to backup goaltender duty.
Bobrovsky soldiered on and waited for his opportunity. This past weekend, he got it -- coming to the Blue Jackets in a trade that sent draft picks to the Flyers. One man who is extremely excited to have "Bob" in the organization is goaltending coach Ian Clark, who has watched Bobrovsky's game closely over the past few years and knows exactly what he's getting: a confident, hard-working kid who wants a chance to assert himself in the National Hockey League.
"He didn't have a long leash in Philadelphia," Clark told BlueJackets.com. "He's a skilled goaltender, and I'm certain that this is an opportunity he has been craving. We have high expectations for Sergei.
"The three things that are hallmarks of his game and his personality are his work ethic, his competitiveness, and his athleticism. From a goaltending perspective, you play the most crucial position on the ice and you should, by default, have that level of work ethic and competitiveness. You always need that from your goaltenders, just given the significance of the position."
Bobrovsky can make difficult saves look easy, and on several occasions, was responsible for keeping the Flyers in games. He's still only 23 years old, and in a prime position to make a run at a starting job in the NHL. As it stands right now, the Blue Jackets' NHL depth chart features Bobrovsky and incumbent Steve Mason between the pipes -- and according to GM Scott Howson, the two are on equal footing.
If that's how things shake out heading into training camp, Howson wants to see how the internal competition motivates each of his goaltenders.
"We don't have a No. 1," Howson said. "We will be more than happy to go to training camp - if that's all we do - then those two will fight it out to see who gets the most playing time, and I think that's a great competitive situation for our hockey team.
"It was a top priority to get (a goalie) either in trade or free agency. We had our eye on Sergei for a while, so it was just time to step up and make the deal."