If a goaltender falls in the woods and refuses to speak about it, does it really happen?
It’s official: The Philly media has already gotten to Ilya Bryzgalov… or at least his goalie coach, Jeff Reese. First, on Friday, Reese said that he thought Bryz was spending too much time talking to the media. Today, Sam Carchidi of the Daily News reported somewhat shocking news that Bryz would only speak to the media after games in which he plays. Wait, what?
Through the team's public-relations department, Bryzgalov requested that he no longer talk to the media (and, in effect, the fans) except after games in which he plays.
The coaching staff and management supported the decision, the Flyers said. (The feeling here is they may have suggested it.)
A few hours later, the Flyers quickly reversed course and announced that Bryz would only be off-limits the day before games and day of games, not after every practice, as was first thought to be the case.
So, who had October 31st as the day Bryz entered the Mike Richards Zone?
There’s two sides to this: One, Bryz is hilarious, candid, and speaks in a perfectly ironic Russian accent which automatically adds a x1.25 modifier to his quotes. The day that foreign mouth gets muzzled will be a sad day.
Two, the outrage (and subtle digs) from the beat writers are intentionally (and unintentionally) hilarious:
But Randy Miller wins:
He's spitting out truth! Take cover!
They're all right, too. The new face of the organization (yep) can’t begin to selectively speak with the media– it’s a role that goes with the territory. The NHL, more so than any other league, grants media and TV unprecedented access to players. This practice absolutely helps the league market its product. And, as you saw above, there's the obvious inference that his new restriction will (or should) apply to HBO’s 24/7…
Uh oh. Shit just got real, didn’t it?
You know who’s not going to like that? You’re not going to like it. HBO is most certainly not going to like it. And I can’t imagine Gary Bettman will, either.
The beat writers feel like this is coming from the team, not Bryz– right again. Lavs admits the Flyers are trying to protect Bryz:
"I’m just trying to give him a break … There’s just too much coming out. We’re trying to protect him."
There’s more (this is where the real fun begins).
Carchidi says the Philadelphia Chapter of the Hockey Writers Association filed a complaint, presumably with the league. There’s an NHL policy that says players must be available to the media daily, otherwise teams can be fined $10,000 each day, according to Miller.
This is not a good start to Bryz's nine-year, $51 million contract. Here’s what I wrote on Friday, after Bryz got lost in the woods:
Just a few days ago, he jokingly complained about hearing the same questions repeatedly, indicating that writers are only going to give a guy a pass if they like him, anyway. Audio here.
"They go and do same thing: practice, game, practice, game, sleep, game, practice. You write. You ask questions, sit at a computer, and write it. And it depends, you bring your feelings, your judgement: No I don’t like this guy, I’m going hard at him. Oh I maybe like him, maybe I’m not going to go that hard at him."
Even though he was joking, there was a little bit of Mike Richards in that statement.
This has to work. There is no Plan B if Bryz is a bust. It’s wayyy early, and there’s certainly a lot more evidence that he’ll be just fine – stellar – for the Flyers, but all we can do right now is react. And it’s hard not to wonder, what if? What if he’s a glass case of emotion and can’t hack it here?
Whether it’s Bryz who doesn’t want to speak with the media, or the Flyers that think it’s affecting his play, this is a policy that needs to go away soon. After all, you know what being afraid of the Philly media gets you? This:
4th Period Magazine pic via the Kings