Ilya Bryzgalov

Briere: Goalies are ‘different’ and Bryzgalov was no exception


Forward Danny Briere and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov have one thing in common: the Philadelphia Flyers have confirmed that both players will be bought out in the interest of freeing up cap space.

Bryzgalov has been a polarizing figure in Philadelphia, both for his performance between the pipes and the steady stream of interesting quotes he’s provided during his tenure with the club.

It got to the point where there were questions about whether his personality played a role in the Flyers’ decision to sever his nine-year, $51 million contract. With that in mind, Briere was asked if Bryzgalov was liked in the Flyers’ dressing room.

“It was split,” Briere told CSN Philadelphia. “Some guys liked him. Some guys did not like him, but that wasn’t really the issue … I think the Flyers felt it was better for the team moving forward.”

Bryzgalov got plenty of media attention in the lead-up to the 2012 Winter Classic, courtesy of HBO’s “24/7.” The Flyers eventually decided to give Sergei Bobrovsky the high-profile start and Bryzgalov chose to publicly reveal the “great news” himself.

“Goalies are all a little different,” Briere said. “Apart from Marty Biron, who was the most normal one, they all have different personalities and we all saw what Bryz’s personality was when “24/7” came on. That was Bryz. At the end of the day, he’s a goalie.

“It’s not the players’ fault or right to be bothered by what he says or does. Most of what we do has to be within the team concept. But if you think about it, the goalie is free. He doesn’t have to know what the forecheck or neutral zone trap is. He is on the spotlight every single shot. He has to be aware. Bryz was Bryz.”


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

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

Paul Holmgren

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.

Five Flyers goalie options, post-Bryzgalov (Updated)

Roberto Luongo

You all know the news by now — the Philadelphia Flyers will use a compliance buyout on goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

It could be that management already has a plan in place to address the starting goaltending for next season, so don’t be surprised if there’s more to this story soon.

But here are five potential options, for discussion’s sake:

Roberto Luongo

Another big contract with lots of years left, but the Flyers have the pockets to take it on, and let’s be honest, they aren’t exactly risk averse. Luongo’s cap hit is $5.3 million, which could be problematic. But let’s say room can be found — at this point, the Canucks can’t expect much in return for the 34-year-old, so for Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren, it could mean getting a goalie with tons of big-game experience for not much more than the willingness to roll the dice.

Update: 2:30 p.m. ET

So much for that.

Ray Emery

A pending unrestricted free agent, Emery went a remarkable 17-1-0 (.922 save percentage) with the Blackhawks during the regular season. There’s still significant risk attached to the 30-year-old, however, as Emery hasn’t been a full-time starter in the NHL since undergoing surgery for avascular necrosis in 2010.

Ryan Miller

A potential trade candidate out of Buffalo, the 32-year-old has one year remaining on his contract, with a $6.25 million cap hit. Miller has been good, but not elite-level, the past three seasons for the Sabres. In 2013, he went 17-17-5 with a .915 save percentage.

Mike Smith

A pending unrestricted free agent, Smith is in line for a good-sized payday. Whether Holmgren would have the appetite to sign another goalie out of Phoenix remains to be seen. Have Smith’s numbers been inflated playing behind a defense-first system? Certainly a few thought that was the case with Bryzgalov. It’s possible Smith ends up re-signing with the Coyotes anyway.

Steve Mason

For the moment, he’s number one on the Flyers’ depth chart. The 25-year-old had his struggles in Columbus, and former Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson may not recommend betting on the former rookie of the year to regain his form. But Mason was good in six starts for the Flyers, posting four wins and allowing just 12 goals combined.