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.
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.