Friday, May 11, 2012

Bryzgalov's musings still hard to read

I saw Ilya Bryzgalov after Game 5, after he issued a few minutes worth of regret-laden quotes to a mass of English-speaking media in the wake of an elimination loss to the New Jersey Devils.
He was in a relaxed posture talking to a Russian reporter who doubles for the Flyers as a pseudo-translator for forever backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Anyway, Bryzgalov was doing something else that at least in recent weeks was a little unusual -- yakking. The story was released Thursday and then put on a website by that Yahoo Puck Daddy in an English translation. Whether or not something was lost in the translation ... who knows?
Of course, that never matters anymore, does it?
Judging by what Bryzgalov says in the article, however, it seems relatively accurate. For it follows along the lines of what Bryzgalov gave Flyers this year...
Inconsistent answers, flavored with something that sounds like self-pity.
"Yes, I made a mistake," Bryzgalov told the reporter after he had to be reminded that he literally handed a goal to David Clarkson in Game 5. "But when a player makes a pass and the opponent intercepts it, no one says anything, right?  I understand that I am being criticized by everyone but the lazy. But I am trying not to think about it."
Everyone but the lazy? Yeah, something apparently was lost in the translation.
But more Bryz:
"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."
And more Bryz:
"What I lived through this season I wouldn't wish to an enemy ... 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."
That's a neat interview trick. Criticize your team's fans then call them dedicated.
Anyway, more Bryz, when asked if he could ask for a trade if he's that upset:
"I am not one of those people. I will not give in when facing difficulties. I have eight more years to work under my contract with Philadelphia. If I am criticized, then I will endure it. You can't tie up people's tongues. It is their right to let the emotions go."
Ya think?
"I don't even know," the Bryz man finally said. "I got very tired this season, to be honest."
Yes. This was season 1 of this goalie and he is under contract for eight more. If he's tired, everyone else might be exhausted.
This guy is 31. He's been playing professionally in the United States since 2001. And yes, he was a minor leaguer in Cincinnati, and an NHL goalie in Anaheim and Phoenix.
For hockey, they are nothing more than media outposts.
So, as GM Paul Holmgren pointed out Thursday, Bryzgalov had to adjust to the ways of the media and fans on the Philadelphia sports scene. What Holmgren didn't revisit was how Bryzgalov's comedy act on HBO's 24/7 disrupted Peter Laviolette's preferred vice-like grip on the locker room.
That's part of the landscape here, too.
If Bryzgalov is what some people think he is, just a talented goalie with a sense of humor that gets lost in translation, then fine. It's up to the team to help him (and the quiet, underachieving backup goalie named Bob) by providing a real translator or liaison for the "media masses" after games.
That's something the Flyers, historically one of the last NHL teams to entertain the idea of using players from Eastern Europe, never quite understood.
But the Bryz's only problem isn't language. It's an unrefined sense of understanding. He's acts like a little boy lost in the sports media landscape here, yet is actually a veteran NHL player with a $51 million contract who often seems disconnected.
It doesn't have to be that way, but only if this starting goalie masters something else that was lost in his transition from Phoenix to Philly...
A matured sense of leadership that the Flyers thought they were buying last summer.


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