It’s best to go cold turkey when you break up with somebody. But, almost without fail, someone has to rail on their ex to friends. Someone has to say what an asshole the other person was. Someone has to tell every girl in their high school how small your pe… never mind.
Despite giving up one of the worst goals in Flyers playoff history by playing the puck directly into the stick of David Clarkson in Game 5 against the Devils, Bryz managed to escape our rath, mostly because he was one of the team’s best players during their second round loss (not saying much). He wasn’t great, but, for once, goaltending wasn’t the reason the Flyers didn't drink from the Cup. And most fans were able to look past his struggles thanks to stellar performance in March and near-nonstop hilarity all season long. Hell, Bryz even thanked fans for the ups and downs on his Twitter.
Well, in Soviet Russia, goaltender can't keep mouth shut!
Speaking to Russian reporter Natalia Bragilevskaya – who sounds like the hottest, sluttiest Bond girl ever and a potential Family Guy character – Bryz had some things to say about the Philly fans. Let’s read, as translated by Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy:
"We have an excellent team. All the guys are good, the management is great. But 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. You should understand that I am not speaking out against the fans. Philadelphia has great fans, they are the majority. They are always with the team in difficult times. Even after a mistake they say words of support. But who didn't make mistakes in this world?"
You came under a massive pressure from the media and fans in Philadelphia. Maybe reading newspapers wasn't worth it?
"It is difficult. Wherever you come, whatever you open — my face is everywhere. Everyone is talking about me. 'Bryzgalov played well,' 'Philadelphia won, but Bryz made a mistake again,' 'Yes, he wasn't scored against but could have been'… Guys, but who doesn't make mistakes? And how many [pucks] did I catch before then? But very few notice that. People are so concentrated on the negative that they only see the bad in me. But I think that you need to be kinder to each other."
The way goaltenders are treated in Philadelphia is different. For many years it is the club's Achilles' heel.
"What I lived through this season I wouldn't wish to an enemy… [But if you started on something, finish it]. I need to keep working. I understand the fans. They paid their money and want the show. But many forget that we are not robots, but living people. We have feelings, worries. It's easy to turn away when the club is going through tough times. But if you're wearing orange sweaters, then support Philadelphia until the very end! Don't denounce your team. There won't be a different one. And I know that the Flyers have dedicated fans who understand hockey and will always support."
You won't change the fans, the media as well.
"You can change your own view of the situation. Not be reflective. To listen and read less negativity. As I said, I learned a serious lesson. And next season I will only be better."
What doesn't kill you make you stronger — is this about you?
"Yes. 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."
Now, before piling on, it’s important to note that a lot gets lost in translation. We have words that soften certain phrases. Often, a translation yields the harshest, most rigid version of what was said.
That said… whining about Philly fans never did anyone any good. It didn’t work for Mike Schmidt. It didn’t work for Scott Rolen. Up until last night it didn’t work for Andre Iguodala. And there are hundreds of others.
Some notables from the interview:
But there is a lot of negativity surrounding the team: Hardly. It’s called caring. This was perhaps the most enjoyable and positive Flyers season in a long time. The $51 million goaltender couldn’t stop a beach ball for much of the season, and he was treated with the appropriate amount of scrutiny.
And how many [pucks] did I catch before then: Not enough. Never, ever, in this town has but look what I did before worked for an athlete. Just take Cole Hamels, for example. He has been booed many times since 2008, even though he was the number one reason the Phillies won a World Series. His response, every time, has been perfect. He understands the boos, said he’s done it too. That’s the way to handle it.
What I lived through this season I wouldn't wish to an enemy: If you want to pay me $51 million to suffer through some boos and negative press, I will happily be your worst enemy. Where do I sign?
Bryz did say many positive things about his teammates, the organization and, yes, even the fans [you can read the full interview here]. But that’s going to be overshadowed by what you just read.
Yesterday, Paul Holmgren told reporters that he expects Bryz to be better next season. He believes that there’s an adjustment period for players coming from small markets into Philadelphia, sentiments which Bryz echoed. They’re accurate, too. The type of scrutiny placed on goaltenders in this town is unlike anywhere else, especially Phoenix. You can’t blame Bryz for being somewhat upset with the way he was treated at times. But, there’s a difference between being upset and telling a Russian reporter how awful it was and expecting that news not to get back to Philadelphia. Which it did.