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John Tortorella: ‘Thrilled, So Happy’ for Sergei Bobrovsky

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John Tortorella and Sergei Bobrovsky seem to have a much better relationship now than they did while they were together with the Columbus Blue Jackets. // AP Photos

SUNRISE — Sergei Bobrovsky and John Tortorella had a complicated relationship with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

At times, it was more like an afternoon soap opera.

Many assumed Bobrovsky’s dealings with his coach were a big reason he told the Blue Jackets after the 2017-18 season he would not sign an extension with the team.

It certainly played a role.

But, time is a great healer.

By all accounts, both Tortorella and Bobrovsky are happy that the other is succeeding in their new home.

Tortorella, whose Philadelphia Flyers face the Panthers tonight in Sunrise, said he was excited to see Bobrovsky carry Florida into the Stanley Cup Final last year.

“He is one of the greatest competitors and one of the greatest guys at preparing,” Tortorella said on Monday before sharing more kind thoughts about his former goaltender off to the side.

“He is prepared each and every game. Bob and I had some ups and downs as all players do, I guess. We all go through that. It was never a personal thing.”

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While in Columbus, Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets had limited postseason success — although his final run with Columbus was quite memorable as Bobrovsky backstopped the Jackets to a monumental four-game first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019.

In 2023, Bobrovsky turned in a similar performance as Florida upset Boston in a 7-game thriller before knocking out Toronto and Carolina en route to the Cup Final.

“The thing I am so happy for him was during the playoffs. The question always was, ‘where is Bob in the playoffs?’ I asked him that in Columbus,’’ Tortorella said.

“We needed him in the playoffs. I watched him grow with us in Columbus and to see some of the things he has done during some series, he has turned into a very important guy for his team.

“He texts me on holidays, and we stay in touch a little that way. I am thrilled for him. I grinded him; I was hard on him. We went through ups and downs in Columbus, and I have watched him grow into one of the best goalies in the league.”

Bobrovsky and Tortorella certainly had their moments in Columbus, from the team suggesting he see a sports psychologist in 2017 after they were knocked out of the first round in successive years to the eventual Cup champion Penguins to suspending him after pulling him from a game against the Lightning.

Although Bobrovsky has been critical of how Tortorella handles his players in the past, he has often praised his coaching acumen.

He did so again last week.

At the All-Star Game, Bobrovsky was asked by Philadelphia Inquirer writer Jackie Spiegel about the Flyers and if he was surprised by the season they were having.

Bobrovsky said he was not.

Although the Flyers come into tonight’s game riding a five-game losing streak, Philadelphia currently sits third in the Metropolitan Division.

While many predicted the Flyers would be more likely to be battling for the top pick in the draft than a playoff position, here they are, sitting in a postseason spot.

“When Torts is the head coach, I think they’re going to do well,’’ Bobrovsky said. “He is the kind of coach who holds the locker room’s attention. He takes the best of the guys, takes the best out of every player.

“He is very smart, knows the mind of the player well. So, I am not surprised the Flyers are doing well.’’

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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: Thursday vs. Washington, 7 p.m.

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