Paul Holmgren

Holmgren: ‘Costly mistake’ resulted in Bryzgalov buyout, largest in NHL history

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Say this about Paul Holmgren — he’s shouldering the load.

The Flyers GM owned up to a massive error in judgment on Tuesday, calling Ilya Bryzgalov’s nine-year, $51 million deal “a costly mistake.”

Holmgren is shouldering all the blame for this failed experiment, one that resulted in the largest buyout in NHL history — surpassing the Islanders buying out the final eight years and $17.6 million of Alexei Yashin’s deal in 2007.

And the Flyers GM is taking this on solo because, in May, owner Ed Snider shot down the notion of being the driving force behind the deal.

From the Courier-Post:

Q: True or not, the fan base believes that you are most responsible for the Flyers trading for Bryzgalov two summers ago and then signing him to a nine-year, $51-million contract. A lot of people also believe if Bryzgalov’s contract isn’t bought out that you’ll be the reason.

A: First of all, I didn’t pick Bryz. That’s not my job.

Our staff picked Bryz of the available goaltenders and (general manager) Paul Holmgren basically decided that was the guy he wanted. My role in the whole thing was to say, ‘We’ve got to get a quality goaltender. We can’t go through what we went through that year with the goaltending in the (2010) playoffs.’

I think we would have won that Cup (instead of losing in the Final to Chicago) if we had been a little more solid at the time in goal and not switching around so often.

The point is that I don’t get involved. I don’t ever say, ‘I’m signing this player.’ I don’t know enough about the players. We have scouts. We have Paul Holmgren. We have all the people that work for Paul that make these decisions.

That’s in stark contrast from the picture painted at the time of the signing.

In June 2011, this piece ran in the Philadelphia Daily News, suggesting Snider had plenty of influence on the deal:

Snider made it clear that he is the one who wants Ilya Bryzgalov in a Flyers uniform next season, setting in motion a directive at the end of last season that put general manager Paul Holmgren on a mission.

The Flyers acquired Bryzgalov’s rights on June 7.

“It had to be done,” Snider told the Daily News, just after arriving here for tonight’s NHL Awards show at The Palms Casino and Resort. “I was part of making it happen. It was hard to sit there and watch the Stanley Cup final, knowing what [Tim] Thomas was doing for Boston.”

As with most things, the reality probably falls somewhere in the middle — but that’s of little consolation to Holmgren, now responsible for what could be argued as the worst deal in hockey history.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.