Flyers are better off having traded Bobrovsky

Flyers are better off having traded Bobrovsky

June 17, 2013, 4:00 pm
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The outrage pours onto the streets in Philadelphia as yet another ex-Flyer achieves fame and immortality somewhere else.
 
Last summer, it was Jeff Carter and Mike Richards winning the Stanley Cup with the L.A. Kings.
 
Before that, it was Dennis Seidenberg, a guy the Flyers gave up on, winning a Cup in Boston. And he could do it again this year, too.
 
Sometimes, the truth hurts. But the reality was: Carter and Richards weren’t going to win a Cup with the Flyers as the team was constructed.
 
Sometimes, it just works out better somewhere else.
 
Which brings us to the Sergei Bobrovsky debacle, as some people see it.
 
This weekend, the Russian goalie won the Vezina Trophy with the Columbus Blue Jackets, as the league's best goalie. His season was outstanding: 21 wins, a 2.00 goals-against average and .932 save percentage on a team that, like the Flyers, didn’t make the playoffs.
 
NHL general managers pick the Vezina –- not the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
 
“I didn’t know a lot about Sergei before we acquired him,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. “But after the trade was out at the draft, [Flyers coach] Peter Laviolette tapped me on the shoulder and wanted to talk.
 
“He just went on about Sergei Bobrovsky: ‘You’re going to love this guy. He competes. He works. He’ll help drive your team. He’s a great kid.’ That got me excited, and he was absolutely right on all of it.”
 
Anyone who watched the Flyers when Bob was playing behind Ilya Bryzgalov knows that he simply wasn’t a good fit as Bryz’s backup.
 
It was an untenable situation for him, bad for his development and anything but ideal for the Flyers.
 
In 2011-12, as Bryz’s backup, Bobrovsky had a 3.02 GAA and .899 save percentage. He was rather unhappy here, though he worked his tail off and never complained.
 
For his own good, Bobrovsky, now 24, had to be moved so he could grow into a No. 1 and his destination was Columbus, who acquired him in exchange for three draft picks.
 
One of those picks, -– a second rounder -- became goalie Anthony Stolarz, who already has risen to become the best net prospect in the Flyers' entire system.
 
And remember: As good as Bobrovsky’s rookie season was with the Flyers –- 28 wins, 2.59 GAA and .915 save percentage -- he was pretty mediocre during the playoffs against both Buffalo and Boston (3.23 GAA, .877).
 
Which is why management and ownership decided to go find a proven veteran.
 
I have never had a problem with the Flyers moving players to see them develop their full potential elsewhere. I was fine with the Bobrovsky deal.
 
You don’t sign Bryzgalov to a contract longer than most people’s marriages and then force a young player like Bobrovsky, who needs to play, into a backup role permanently. You let him play somewhere else.
 
If I recall, most fans didn’t have an issue with the Bobrovsky deal last summer, either. It wasn’t until things went up in Flyers-orange flames this season as Bryz struggled and Bob caught fire that fans began to really get upset.
 
Hindsight is always 20/20.
 
Let me ask you this: Was the Bobrovsky deal worse than the Patrick Sharp disaster?
 
Remember Sharpie?
 
I agree with what Bob Clarke told ESPN.com last week -– one of the organization’s worst trades was the deal he completed back in 2006, trading the young Sharp to Chicago for Matt Ellison and a third-round pick.
 
Now an alternate captain, Sharp has really blossomed with the Blackhawks. He already has one Stanley Cup ring and could get his second this month.
 
At the time, Sharp kept butting heads with coach Ken Hitchcock about defensive responsibilities and his overall game.
 
Clarke said he made the trade because Sharp needed far more ice time than he was going to get as a Flyer on that veteran club.
 
To me, that deal was far worse than shipping Bobrovsky off to Columbus. Ellison was a nothing player in the NHL and the third-round pick was later shipped to Montreal.
 
One more thing ...
 
Bobrovsky’s emergence led to Steve Mason’s exile in Columbus and his eventual trade to the Flyers.
 
Essentially, the Flyers and Blue Jackets exchanged backup goalies and the way I see it, both teams are the better for it and both have already benefited.

Right now, Flyers fans seem rather pumped over Mason and what he might do for this club this coming fall. Truthfully, Mason has a much better chance to make an impact here -- even if Bryz remains -- than Bobrovsky would have.
 
Pain is something every hockey player lives with. And in some NHL cities, like Philadelphia, fans have to learn to live with such, as well.