Bryzgalovs Future Rests in Continued MaturationBREAKING NEWS, Flyers, News, NHL Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Natalia Bragilevskaya of Sovetsky Sport published an interview with Ilya Bryzgalov in Russian earlier today that was conducted after the Game Five Semifinals loss on Tuesday. It was the only interview he gave to a member of the media.
The Puck Daddy blog on Yahoo published an English translation of the interview, which was not nearly as entertaining as if you used Altavista’s “babelfish” function but it made a lot more sense.
There are a number of interesting quotes from Bryzgalov that beg to question whether he is ever going to really fit in Philadelphia.
Let’s start with the end of the interview. “Now I know what it’s like to be a goaltender in Philadelphia. Maybe from the outside it looks like there’s nothing to it. You only realize it on your own.”
While there have been several cases in the recent past of Flyers goaltenders that fought with the media (Roman Čechmánek and Robert Esche come to mind), to suggest that it’s the position itself that was the problem is ridiculous.
Neither Sergei Bobrovsky nor Brian Boucher had any problems with the media or the fans last season. The fans may have wanted to see an upgrade in net after the three-headed monster of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, but they were never the center of media attention the way the Bryzgalov has been all year, much of which he brought on himself.
Some of the pressure from both Bryzgalov and the fans can be attributed to the size of his contract. When a player eats up that much of the available team resources, expectations are naturally higher.
“There is a lot of negativity surrounding the team. You did everything you could on the ice. You go to the locker room and someone yells some nonsense at your back. They’re ready to eat you alive. It’s unpleasant, because we are all people.”
There have certainly been moments when quotes proffered in the locker room were taken out of context by members of the main stream media.
Back in October, there was a game against the St. Louis Blues that ended in a loss as a result of Braydon Coburn and Bryzgalov miscommunicating over who was going to handle a loose puck just outside of the crease. Matt D’Agostini ended the play with a goal.
Having listened to both Coburn and Bryzgalov speak about the play as well as the subsequent chuckling and jokes from some of the other members of the media, it was clear that this was going to be blown up into “the defense and Bryzgalov aren’t on the same page,” which is what ended up getting reported.
The majority of the backlash against Bryzgalov, though, was a result of his antics and his laissez-faire attitude at practices and, at times, in games. Nobody made up the infamous “lost in the woods” quote. Nobody hacked his twitter account and tweeted a thermos before the Winter Classic. Nobody used a body double to tell HBO about the universe being “humangous big.”
He became the butt of jokes and snarky criticism because he gave them rocket fuel to work with. It doesn’t matter if this is Philadelphia- this behavior wouldn’t work in any market in the NHL. Maybe he thought it was working just fine in Phoenix, but based on what his old teammates had to say about him last Fall, clearly it didn’t.
On the positive side of things, it seems as though he’s finally realized all of this.
“I gained invaluable experience… It is difficult to describe with words. It is a psychology, a new view on life.”
After the Winter Classic, Bryzgalov’s demeanor in front of the media became much more stoic. He often provided short responses or pointed to his teammates as the reason for any success they had that particular day.
You know what? That’s all he needs to do. That’s all he’s ever needed to do, and avoiding unnecessary distractions will probably help him focus better next season.
He also firmly committed his desire to stay in Philadelphia for the duration of his contract, in spite of the criticisms (unlike a certain Vancouver netminder). As sports fans in this city often have very short memories, it won’t take much for fans to cheer him next season. Just show up, play well, and maybe bring us a little closer to another parade.
For the latest Flyers news and updates, you can follow me on twitter (@JoshJanet).
Short URL: http://gcobb.com/?p=30251