Will Off-Ice Distractions Hurt The Blue Jackets?

This may not end up being an easy year for the Blue Jackets after being one of the league’s most consistent clubs over the last two seasons.

Their on-ice play certainly has been decent, but nothing to write home as of yet. As of this writing (October 11), the team is 2-1 with four points in what could end up being a very competitive Metropolitan Division.

Not a terrible start, but something tells me they may not have much to enjoy this season due to situations that are occurring off the ice with their two best players. Here is what TSN Insider/The Athletic hockey scribe Pierre Lebrun said last week regarding the situation:

“Well, if that’s not bad enough because it shocked the organization in the summer, my understanding is that he doesn’t want to sign with anyone, period, during the season. In other words, if and when he gets traded, he will be traded as a rental, which will greatly diminish the return for him, compared to if he would be gone in a trade, like Max Pacioretty who signed an extension with Vegas which gave the Montreal Canadiens a great return. Sounds like instead it will be like Erik Karlsson leaving Ottawa, which hurts your return if you’re Columbus.

This is awful news to year if you are a Blue Jackets fan. They are surely to lose him no matter what happens and not only that, but they will have nothing to show for it.Panarin is a game-breaker who can do it all offensively so if you are going to lose someone like him, you better be able to get someone that could become him in the future. Right now, there is no one hopping off the page for this franchise.

Another thing to mention is that they could very well end up losing their star netminder Sergei Bobrovsky as well. Contract talks during the off-season got nowhere and when asked about it, Bobrovsky really didn’t want to talk about it and said the following to Columbus Dispatch Jackets’ writer Adam Jardy:

“I heard some interviews during the summer and stuff like that,” he said. “After the last season, I told the situation to the management of the Blue Jackets so they know everything. They know my plans for this season, they know my plans for the future so they know everything. From now on, I would ask you to not ask me too many questions about my contract and future with the Blue Jackets because I want to focus on the process and to help this team win games.
“I am a Blue Jacket for now. We have a young team and I don’t want too much distraction around the locker room from our situation, from my situation.” 

Yikes. The Blue Jackets might have a good roster right now, but with so much uncertainty surrounding their two best players, that has to be a distraction whether the players admit or not. I know that if I was on a team that was going to lose its two best players, I certainly would not have a lot of hope of winning a Cup anytime soon.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. The team could go out and have a great regular season and it won’t matter because both Panarin and Bobrovsky could be gone already or leaving in the off-season.

If I’m the Blue Jackets, I win as much as I possibly can right now because if you end up losing both those guys at the deadline and don’t have a lot of wins, this season will go extremely poorly.

It does not look good for the team either way. Let’s see how they respond.

Photo: Sports Illustrated


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