By: Adam Gretz
Less than a week after Ilya Bryzgalov faced the Philadelphia media following a 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets -- a game that saw him give up four goals on 10 shots -- and talk about how he has no confidence in himself and how terrible he is (his words, not mine), the Flyers organization is trying to put a muzzle on their $51 million goaltender by limiting the media's access to him.
This, of course, has sparked a bit of an outrage with the writers in Philadelphia for a variety of reasons. Travis Hughes at Broad Street Hockey has a collection of their complaints, and counters by asking why the focus isn't on WHY the Flyers are cutting back on Bryzgalov's access, which seems to be a valid question (more on that in a minute).
There are, of course, a number of reasons as to why the Philadelphia media is so upset about this. For one, Bryzgalov is one of the highest paid players in the NHL, a player that is now the face of the franchise after everything the team went through to acquire and sign him this summer, and a player that is supposed to solve what was considered to be their biggest weakness. He is one of the top players on the team and an important aspect of the team's coverage.
And he's also one of the best quotes and most interesting interviews in the entire league. It's bad news all around for the local scribes.
According to Flyers beat writer Tim Panaccio, the initial policy put forth by the Flyers was going to limit the media's access to Bryzgalov to only post-game interviews, but that has apparently already been revised. As per the revision, Bryzgalov will not be meeting with the press on the day of games before game-time, or the day before games. Sam Charidi said in a Tweet that the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association filed a complaint regarding the situation and the team could face fines for not giving access.
UPDATE: The dispute was resolved with the decision to make Bryzgalov on non-game days.
This all comes after the team's goalie coach, Jeff Reese, talked over the weekend about how Bryzgalov's daily interviews were a "distraction" and could be contributing to his slow start. Is it? And is that why the team is making this effort? If it is, it should be a major concern for the Flyers that a few minutes of his time each day answering questions is preventing him from making saves on game day. He's not the only player in the NHL that has to face questions from the media.
Bryzgalov was going to be facing quite a few changes when he joined the Flyers after spending the past few years having a lot of success in Phoenix. Not only would he be playing behind a different defense in a different system, he was also going from perhaps the most apathetic hockey market in the NHL (Phoenix) to one of the most difficult and intense (Philadelphia). Based on his post-game meltdown on Thursday, as well as the Flyers' efforts to limit the number of times he has to face questions, it would seem to indicate that particular transition isn't going all that well so far.
Photo: Getty Images