Total Bryzaster

Posted: June 25, 2013 in Flyers

Bummer rooski

Much to the surprise of nobody in the Philadelphia area, the Flyers used their second and final allotted compliance buyout on goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

And so Bryzgalov is on his merry way to free agency.

Honestly, I was never really a huge fan of the Flyers signing him to begin with. Of course I have nothing against Ilya Bryzgalov the person, but as far as Bryzgalov the goalie? Well, I wasn’t exactly jumping out of my seat when the Flyers signed him. When the Flyers signed “Bryz”, they were hoping to solve the goaltending saga that has been playing out since Ron Hextall played his last game as a Flyer.

The thing about when you take a big gamble is you either win big or lose big. This was a big case of the latter for the Flyers.

Brizzly Bear

The Flyers signed Bryzgalov to a 9-year $51 million contract prior to the 2011-12 season.

Frankly, the first mistake that was made was, not signing him, but signing him to a massive contract. 9 years for $51 million is absolutely absurd. Not only was Bryzgalov not worth that kind of money, but the size of the contract immediately put the Flyers in a really tough spot. Every season, the Flyers are straddling the salary cap and wind up having to clear space at the expense of other players. With so much money invested in Bryz, the Flyers were not able to sign other players to fill other voids they had.

Also, expectations may have been to high for Bryzgalov. Granted goaltender is the most scrutinized position in Philadelphia and any time a move is made involving goaltenders, the bar is always set extremely high.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Ilya Bryzgalov though, is that he can not handle playing in a big market team. Before joining the Flyers, he spent time with the Anaheim Ducks and later the Phoenix Coyotes. Anaheim and Phoenix are not exactly huge markets for hockey. That’s not to say that fan support there is awful, but it is nowhere near what it is in Philadelphia (or Boston, New York, Detroit or any Canadian team for that matter). By all standards, the Coyotes are not a big market team (quite the opposite really). .

When he got to Philadelphia, it was pretty clear that he was not exactly comfortable. Instead of playing in front of crowds that were routinely below 13,000, he was now in front of crowds routinely close to 20,000 strong. Not only that, but unlike the fans in Phoenix, Philadelphia fans are extremely knowledgeable and they love their hockey. If a player is not performing at the level they are capable of performing, the fans will be the first to let them know. Also if player is laying it all on the line every game, as if it were their last, they are revered by the fans.

The booing from the fans for his sub-par play got to Bryzgalov. At times it was so clear Stevie Wonder could see it. The fans never got on his case in Phoenix the way Philadelphia fans get on players’ cases. It seemed like he was just not able to shake that off.

Bummer rooski 2

Bryz was never really a fan of the Philadelphia Media.

In addition to the scrutiny from the fans, Bryzgalov could not handle the Philadelphia media either. Any time he talked to the press after a game, he usually was not happy with the constant questioning from reporters. Every interview with him was never short of entertaining. In one memorable interview this season, a frustrated Bryzgalov criticized the media and at one point asked “What have you done for the city?”

Ilya Bryzgalov may have been great with the Coyotes. Simply put, he was not a good fit for Philadelphia. He was not comfortable with Philadelphia and Philadelphia was not comfortable with him.

Many arguments can be made as far as who is to blame. Regardless, the Flyers need to put this behind them and move forward.


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