Please, hockey gods, let this end.
Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky are not re-signing here. Artemi Panarin, after recently firing his agent and hiring the same agent that represents Sergei Bobrovsky, appears intent on reaching free agency on July 1. Sergei Bobrovsky said before the season that he let the front office know his intentions before the season and relations seem to have only soured as the season has gone along, culminating with him walking out on the team after he was pulled in a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, earning a one game suspension.
As the team draws closer to the deadline, with the team in playoff contention, Jarmo Keklainen’s job is to keep the team competitive for the remainder of the season while attempting to secure the future of the franchise as two of the best players seek prospects elsewhere. I, for one, do not envy being in his position - the pressure of juggling all of these expectations. For fans, however, the job is nearly as difficult - maintaining faith in the team while not knowing which of the players are still going to be on the roster in two weeks.
The last drastic overhaul of the Blue Jackets’ roster came in 2012, when Rick Nash was traded to the New York Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Tim Erixon. It had been well known at the time that Nash wanted to leave Columbus and fans were understandably disappointed and heartbroken. The team now faces the same issue, but on a more compressed timeline - because of the contract status of Panarin and Bobrovsky, Kekalainen has just over a week to trade one or both of the players and reposition the roster for the future as the franchise did during the Nash saga.
For fans, this process can only be described as frustration - each day there seems to be a new rumor, a new destination the two will be traded, a new return - it never ends. There isn’t much analysis in this piece, and there’s not meant to be - what’s there to analyze?
It’s just frustrating as a fan to see the team play well for long stretches this season, while knowing in the back of your mind that this fun has a cap on it, a sell by date, and we’re drawing near it together. As fans, all we can do it wait and see what our favorite team will look like in two weeks.
In the meantime, feel free to use this as a vent thread, speculation thread, “commiserate with whiskey” thread.
Here’s to this version of the Jackets, however long they have left together.