It's safe to say the chances of Sergei Bobrovsky returning to the Blue Jackets in 2019-20 took a major hit Thursday.
Those chances didn't look particularly promising entering this season. Now, the latest is the two-time Vezina Trophy winner won't be with the team for Thursday night's game, a decision made by Columbus.
Here is the statement from Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen:
There are certain expectations and values that we have established for our players that define our culture. An incident occurred in which Sergei failed to meet those expectations and values, so we made the decision that he would not be with the team for tonight's game. This is an internal matter and we will have no further comment at this time.
According to a report by The Athletic's Aaron Portzline, a meeting regarding the matter will be held prior to Friday's practice in which Bobrovsky is expected to partake. There are rumblings that there has been friction this season between Bobrovsky and head coach John Tortorella, who wouldn't comment on the situation at Thursday's morning skate.
This drama is somewhat notable in Flyers country because the team's goalie situation is the opposite of sacrosanct and Bobrovsky can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Per a report by Sportsnet's Chris Johnston on Dec. 9, there were "whispers" the Flyers will "take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1," which is when free agency opens.
Who knows, maybe this is the final straw for Bobrovsky in Columbus and a trade happens before the Feb. 25 deadline. However, the goalie has a no-movement clause that would have to be waived for it to happen and a deal seems unlikely given the Blue Jackets are in third place of the Metropolitan Division, primed for a playoff push.
As for the Flyers, they will have all sorts of decisions in net during the offseason. They even have them now after playing their seventh goalie of the year, tying the NHL record.
But really, any Bobrovsky-Flyers buzz right now would be premature given so much is unsettled within the organization. Who is named the Flyers' next head coach will be a significant factor in Bobrovsky's decision. So will the Flyers' direction and at this point, it's unknown if the organization will be pushing forward or retooling.
What is known is that Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets seem to be growing further apart and the 30-year-old would give the Flyers instant stability in net if general manager Chuck Fletcher is willing to dole out the dollars and years.
If the Flyers do in fact go after Bobrovsky, convincing him they're the best fit will be a whole different battle.
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