This afternoon, word quickly spread around the interwebtuals that Bryz joined Twitter (@bryzgoalie30). It looks like it's really him. According to Teemu (@euroflyers), who covers hockey across the pond for Broad Street Hockey, and this Russian article, which was Tweeted out by Bryz… it is most definitely him.
There are several levels to this:
1) Isn't it a pretty big coincidence that a free agent goalie would join Twitter and start talking to fans the day he is visiting his assumed host city?
No. No it's not. When you think about, Bryz is up to 1,700 followers already (I'm sure that will grow by the time I'm finished writing this), most of whom are Flyers fans. This is likely a wise move by his agent, Rich Winter, to give him some publicity during this pseudo free agent period. Not that the Flyers listen to their fans… but having a few thousand folks dialed into the team's biggest target can only help Team Bryz.
The first guy he followed (and who followed him) was Dimitri Fedorov (@dmitryfedoroff), a producer and the owner of Titan, a Russian event agency. He has 3,900 followers, which usually makes someone legit. It's safe to assume he knows Bryz, although, based on his timeline, he's not in Philadelphia with him, and he's not his agent. Bryz's agent is the American-based Winter.
Fedorov didn't answer my phone call (that would have looked nice on the phone bill), but he did respond to my Tweet, saying via Google Translate:
Yes, Ilya today signed up. I think the writing is small, it is well-balanced guy! We get it! I promise! #NHL #Flyers #Bryzgalov
@CrossingBroad @dmitryfedoroff can you confirm bryzgalov's twitter is real? Philly blogger here, would love to talk.
2) Is Bryz Tweeting in Russian? (!!!)
It is with great glee that I tell you he is. Thus far, Bryz has 18 Tweets, about half in the Motherland's vernac. We've translated all of them.
Hi guys!!! #Bryzgalov
I'm with my wife in Philadelphia! #Bryzgalov
(T) Negotiations Negotiations Negotiations
(T) Tashik Rustem's me, hello! Folovte!
(T) Thanks AP! Insisted!
(T) Thank you for your support!
(T) Wait for the news! soon, soon
Yes! This is me!
I think everything will turn !!!!!
(T) Well done:)
(T) Bryzgalov has appeared in Home Tweet http://t.co/pYSz0W4
(T) Thank you for your kind words and for your support:)
Thank you for your kind words and for your support:)
Dima! I confirmed to him that I am!!
Ohhhh.. a Russian goalie on Twitter. I need a minute. This is like the time I found out that Natalie Portman was going to show up at Live 8, bald head and all. Breathe.
3) So, is he coming here?
As you can see, he's not tipping his hand, but reports look good. The Flyers chauffeured Bryz and his wife around Philly today: [Philly Sports Daily]
However, according to a report, the Flyers didn’t hit the negotiating tables with Ilya Bryzgalov on Friday; instead they showed him around Philadelphia. Bryzgalov and his wife Jeniya have been in town since Wednesday night when they were flown in from JFK airport courtesy of Ed Snider’s private jet.
Both camps have broken talks for the weekend.
“We have spoken with Ilya and his agent Ritch Winter about many different scenarios,” Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “As for now, we both know each other’s position and have agreed to speak again next week.”
Howard Eskin, who has been right on with Flyers reports all season, says the Flyers are close to a deal:
4) Is he following other Russians?
Yes. Yes he is. Of the 16 people Bryz follows, about half are hockey-based (including the Flyers account and me), and the other half are Russians, including one guy who Tweeted only "Putin." Excellent.
This is a surreal situation, folks. We have a Russian goalie, under our control, who flew from the Motherland to meet with the Flyers, a team that has exactly two weeks to sign him, or else he becomes a free agent. There is an espionage-action flick here… I just can't find it.
He’s leaving town today. Wondering if he got Snider’s jet for the ride back to JFK? As of yet, no flight plan has been filed.
By the way, he now has 1,893 followers.