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Bobrovsky: 'I want to win the Cup… That's why I chose the Panthers'

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Welcome New Florida Panthers

Welcome New Florida Panthers

Go Behind the Scenes with PanthersVision and follow newly acquired Panthers Bobrovsky, Stralman, Connolly and Acciari to their Press Conference

  • 01:10 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - Sergei Bobrovsky didn't come to South Florida to work on his tan.

With the ink still drying on his seven-year deal, the centerpiece of the Florida Panthers' free agent spending spree greeted the media on Tuesday afternoon at BB&T Center, answering questions about everything from his incredible work habits to what lured him to the franchise.

Almost every answer, however, eventually came back to one thing: winning a Stanley Cup.

"My main thing is to win," said Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner still in search of his first Cup. "I want to win the Cup. That's my main purpose. That's why I chose the Panthers. All of the other things like the sun and the lifestyle and stuff like that just comes along with it."

Following Roberto Luongo's retirement after 19 NHL seasons, the Panthers succeeded in doing what seemed impossible. Less than a week after having their future Hall of Fame goalie ride off into the sunset, they somehow managed to immediately lure another one right down to Sunrise.

Named the NHL's top netminder in both 2013 and 2017, the 30-year-old veteran has appeared in 457 career regular-season games split between Philadelphia (2010-12) and Columbus (2012-19), and owning a 255-153-37 record, .919 save percentage, 2.46 goals against average and 33 shutouts in that span. Over the last three seasons, he leads the league with 115 total victories.

"He gives you a chance to win every night," Tallon said of Bobrovsky, who will wear No. 72 with the Panthers after buying it from new teammate Frank Vatrano for a few dinners down the road. "He's durable and a very good player. He's a student of the game. Nobody works harder. It'll be interesting to see guys like [Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov] and Bobrovsky working off the ice. It'll be a great example for our young players to follow."

While Tallon heaped praise on Bobrovsky's incredible work ethic, the humble 6-foot-2, 182-pound native of Novokuznetsk, Russia said he really doesn't like to use the word "work" very often while discussing the countless hours he spends at the gym and on the ice all year long. For him, it's much more than that.

"It's tough to call it hard work," Bobrovsky said. "I love what I'm doing. It's my life. It's my art. I try to build the best version of myself every day. It takes lots of time, lots of energy, but I enjoy doing that. I wouldn't say that I work. I just love, love, love what I'm doing. I love my art."

Leading the Columbus Blue Jackets to a shocking first-round sweep of the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in this year's playoffs, Bobrovsky is eager to return to the postseason in 2019-20 with the Panthers. And after registering a career-best .925 save percentage in the 10 games he saw action in, he believes, and has also certainly shown, that his best is likely still yet to come.

"I've got seven years. I can really go into the process, focus on the hockey and don't think much about anything else," said Bobrovsky, who has appeared in 34 career playoff games. "I feel like I'm entering my prime. I'm excited for my development. It's lots of work. I feel like I have lots of potential still. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to develop and help this team win."

During his final season with the Blue Jackets, Bobrovsky posted a 37-24-1 record, .913 save percentage, 2.58 goals against average and a league-leading, career-best nine shutouts.

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said having another elite netminder to play in front of next season will serve as both a calming presence and confidence booster for the team's blueliners.

"We had a ton of confidence in Lu. There's no doubt about it. He's a great goalie and a Hall of Famer, but obviously he's got to pass the torch at some point," Ekblad said. "We're happy to have Bob. We know that he's a battle-tested goalie. He's been around for a long time. He works hard off the ice. With that confidence in a goalie, it allows you to play better in front of them. You want to play for goalies like Lu and Bob. They're battling for you, and you're battling for them."

When asked about what attracted him to the Panthers, Bobrovsky went down the list of all the usual draws you'd expect to hear. There's Barkov, Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau and the rest of the team's talented young core that's already in place and hungry to win. Ownership is committed to capturing the Cup, and management has clearly been given the greenlight to make that happen.

The weather, of course, is also a plus.

"You're going to get lots of Vitamin D," Bobrovsky grinned. "It's good for your health."

But at the top of Bobrovsky's list of positives was the man with the mustache, Joel Quenneville.

Hired back in April, "Coach Q" arrived to the Panthers with the second-most wins in NHL history (890) and three Stanley Cups already to his credit. He was the man behind the bench for three championships in Chicago, piloting the Blackhawks to Cup victories in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

"The coach is the most important position on the team," Bobrovsky said. "He builds the atmosphere. He builds the culture. Then all the guys buy into it. When the players have their own roles, the better atmosphere it is. It just relaxes your mind. It allows you to play hockey, to play your best."

During his introductory press conference just under two months ago, Quenneville said he was joining a team that was already in prime position to succeed and simply "waiting on go." With the arrival of Bobrovsky and the team's other free agents, they're now closer than ever to taking off.

"He comes in and gives us a No. 1 goalie that can play in big games," said Quenneville, who had led his teams to the playoffs in 18 of his first 20 full seasons as an NHL head coach. "He's going to play a lot of hockey here. We know how goaltending can influence a game, and we know how goaltending can win in the playoffs as well. He's excited about this opportunity."

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