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Family, Postseason Success Has Sergei Bobrovsky in a Good Place

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Bobrovsky
Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky sprays his mask during the first game of the 2024 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire)

TORONTO — Sitting before a sea of reporters in the catacombs of Scotiabank Arena, Sergei Bobrovsky, dressed in a simple blue cardigan and black beanie that extended past his shoulders, showed no signs of just how overwhelming the scene was in front of him.

The flashing lights and scattered voices did not faze the Florida Panthers goalie as he fielded a laundry list of questions from a smattering of bodies angling for space in front of his interview pod.

Bobrovsky was nothing if not a man at ease, visibly content to sit back and embrace the gimmickry of All-Star Weekend.

“Here you get to have fun and interact with everything around me,” said Bobrovsky, his eyes scanning the makeshift press room on the Toronto Raptors’ practice court.

“Usually, you come to the rink, and you focus on one shot at a time. Here, you can relax and enjoy everything, enjoy being around the fans, and just have fun with it.”

It’s not as if Bobrovsky’s fun these days has been exclusive to All-Star Weekend, however.

The 35-year-old has spent the first half of the 2023-24 season following up one of the most incredible runs of individual goaltending in NHL history last postseason.

Bobrovsky is in the midst of one of his best seasons, leaving for the All-Star break with a dazzling 23-10-2 record, a respectable .910 save percentage, and a sterling 6.6 goals-saved-above-average that lands him top 10 in the NHL.

Bobrovsky

Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky had a new helmet made up for the 2024 NHL All-Star Game. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

Now, in the latter half of a tenure in Florida that skewed expectations and underwhelming play had defined, Bobrovsky seems to have found himself again, exuding the confidence and poise that earned him his $10 million annual salary.

What’s the secret?

According to Bobrovsky, the answer lies away from the rink rather than at it.

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It’s a big change for Bobrovsky, who, for years, was a workaholic, spending hours upon hours honing his craft after practices and games to the point that coaches and staff members alike had to force him to go home.

Pursuing perfection is an admirable trait in any profession, especially professional sports. But as Bobrovsky struggled out of the gate as a Panther, the endless behind-the-scenes work began to tip the scales into more harm than good.

This year? Not so much.

“I can just leave it at the rink now,” explained Bobrovsky.

“I have a 2-year-old daughter that I love to spend time with. And, training-wise, you grow, and you get more experienced, and you learn more what to do and how to do it.”

Bobrovsky is a bonafide family man these days.

His new responsibilities have given the 14-year veteran perspective outside of the daily grind of wins and losses over 82 games, and his play is undoubtedly better for it.

“When your daughter is born, and you hold that fragile little human, it’s very fragile,” Bobrovsky laughed.

“It’s not going to survive without you. There, priorities start changing for sure.”

So changed are Bobrovsky’s priorities that he even admits to letting the news of the league pass him by.

If it’s not about his family or the Panthers, he doesn’t care much.

“I’m not really following what’s going on all around,” laughed Bobrovsky when asked for his take on the play of a few goaltending peers.

“Because, as I said, I have a 2-year-old daughter, and away from the hockey, I try to spend time with her.”

Rest assured, though; the competitive fire still burns bright in Bobrovsky – perhaps more than ever.

Making it through three rounds of playoff torture just to finish three wins shy of a Stanley Cup was devastating for Bobrovsky and a Panthers club that genuinely believed they had what it took to raise hockey’s most treasured chalice.

The hunger that loss fostered has driven the club all season long, and, this time, Bobrovsky says the Panthers are more prepared than ever to make it all the way.

“If you look at the big picture, we’re happy for the experience,” said Bobrovsky, whose team lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in June.

“Yes, there was a frustration, for sure. It’s so hard to lose in the Stanley Cup Finals. Your whole dream is reaching that point. But, on the other hand, if you look at the big picture, it’s a great experience. In each of those rounds, we could lose any game. One bounce, one bad break and you can lose the game and be out. That experience helped us learn what it takes and how much we should work together.”

Bobrovsky believes that a sense of togetherness is the Panthers’ ace in the hole. The locker room is as united as it gets in the modern NHL, united in pursuing a common goal.

“Honestly, it’s so hard to talk about myself separate from the team,” admitted Bobrovsky as his scrum wound down.

“All of our success depends on each other. How well we will put our hopes in and rely on each other.”

If the first half of the season is any indication, those hopes appear to be higher than ever.

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ON DECK

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series — At Florida: Feb. 6; March 7. At Philadelphia: March 24.  
  • Last season: Philadelphia won 2-1
  • All-time regular season series: Philadelphia leads 57-37-6, 7 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Feb. 8 vs. Washington, 7 p.m.

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