Scott Hartnell might be one of the newest Blue Jackets, but he has seen first-hand what makes a huge piece to their puzzle tick.
As a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, Hartnell saw the organization try several options at goaltender and one of them was a little-known Russian kid named Sergei Bobrovsky. The Flyers brought Bobrovsky over from Russia as a 21-year-old who spoke little to no English and had never played in the NHL, but they soon found out how determined he was to be an impact player.
Due to instability between the pipes, Bobrovsky got an opportunity in Philadelphia whether he was ready or not.
He started 54 games in 2010-11, posting a record of 28-13-8 and logging over 3,000 minutes during the regular season. It looked as if the Flyers had found a solution in goal, but after a disappointing playoff performance from Bobrovsky, they went outside the organization a few weeks later.
When Ilya Bryzgalov was signed to a nine-year contract in the summer of 2011, there was little doubt who the Flyers envisioned their No. 1 goaltender to be. Bobrovsky was traded to the Blue Jackets less than a year later, and Hartnell was not the least bit surprised at what happened after that.
“I had a conversation with him after we lost in the playoffs to – I don’t know if it was Jersey – a couple of years ago, and (the Flyers) were talking about needing a goalie,” Hartnell said. “That’s when they brought in Bryzgalov, and Bob said ‘I want to be a No. 1’ in his broken English, and when you hear that from a guy, and he goes out the next year and wins the Vezina, you have to feel good for a guy like that.
“I was real happy for him and that’s the thing, too – you have to have a good goalie to win in this league.”
Bobrovsky’s success in Columbus has been well-documented, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2013 and leading the Blue Jackets to within a tiebreaker of a playoff spot.
He went 32-20-5 with five shutouts this past season – highlighted by the franchise’s second-ever playoff berth - and boasts a rock-solid .927 save percentage in two seasons with the Blue Jackets.
For those who know Bobrovsky, Hartnell said, it all makes sense.
“I’ve never seen a harder working guy, on and off the ice,” Hartnell said. “He goes on (the ice) early, takes shots, works on his stickhandling. After practice, he’s riding the bike, he’s training, things like that. It doesn’t surprise me at all (that he’s having success in Columbus).
“Look at the last few Stanley Cup winners, and with Jonathan Quick being so solid both times (that Los Angeles won). It’s a pretty big part of a team, and having Bob…he’s a pretty good one.”