NHL Hall of Famer and former Flyers captain Chris Pronger joined Snow The Goalie this week and offered up stories from throughout his career, from the widely-reported locker room spat with Claude Giroux, to his relationship with former captain Mike Richards. One story that he brought up is sure to turn some heads. Pronger believes that Ilya Bryzgalov’s tenure with the Orange & Black would’ve been different if Pronger hadn’t sustained a career-ending injury:
Everyone knows the Ilya Bryzgalov experiment failed in Philly, but @NHL HOFer and former @NHLFlyers captain Chris Pronger told @AntSanPhilly @JoyOnBroad things would've been different if he had been around. Listen to the full interview: https://t.co/AC8SXrqyIj pic.twitter.com/WE3rMPESnr
— Snow The Goalie: A Flyers Podcast & Radio Show (@SnowTheGoalie) June 11, 2020
Snow The Goalie: I heard you say in another interview that you felt like things would have been different in that locker room with Bryz as the goalie if you were able to be in that locker room more that season. Can you kind of talk about that, because like I think that one of the reasons that there was a little bit of a downfall for the flyers really just stemmed from the Bryz implosion I guess in Philly. I know that you’ve kind of addressed it, but I just want to see if you can dive into it a little bit more.
Pronger: Yeah I just think having been with him in Anaheim and won with him there as the backup and listen, he’s a different bird, but I think watching him on TV point at defensemen, point at this guy, blame this guy, put his hands up, do all this stuff, that would have been taken care of very quickly. Mistakes happen, stop the puck. Shut you mouth and stop the puck. That’s what you’re paid to do. And, you know, I think he played into the Philly media early and loved the attention and the notoriety and ultimately that was his downfall because then as we know Philly with goalies, it’s build up and a quick fall. And you got to do your job. You got to stop the puck. It’s one thing to get out there and start running your mouth in the media and blaming people and doing this, I mean, I’m reading articles and he’s blaming this guy for this and this guy for that, I’m like ‘dude, your job is to stop the puck, stop blaming people.’ Like that’s it. And, you know, not being there and not able to, you know, when you’re not playing it’s hard to walk in and tell guys what to do and I certainly wasn’t going to do it. Not being able to play and be there and be like, ‘shut your mouth, like stop the puck and shut your mouth.’
The bolded text was my own emphasis on arguably the most important part of the tangent and speaks to what Pronger brought to the locker room: leadership.
More after the jump:
That’s not to say that the Flyers’ squad was devoid of leadership aside from Pronger, but keep in mind that former captain Mike Richards was traded in the summer of 2011, while sniper Jeff Carter was shipped out to Columbus on the same day. There were veterans in that group, including Danny Briere, who had served as a captain in Buffalo as well as Kimmo Timonen who served in the same capacity for the Nashville Predators.
Ultimately, Pronger’s career was cut short and Bryz imploded. Sergei Bobrovsky, who had been dealt to appease the big money signing, went on to win a Vezina Trophy. The Flyers spent the next six seasons in search of a young goalie to end the string of incompetent play. Hopefully Carter Hart keeps his head on straight. He’s already demonstrated more poise at 21 years of age than Bryzgalov did in his two year tenure with the Orange & Black.
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