Ilya Bryzgalov’s agent, Ritch Winter, believes goaltenders are set up to fail with the Philadelphia Flyers because of a flawed defensive approach.
“It’s terrible in Philadelphia for a goaltender,” Winter told an Edmonton local radio station Wednesday via Tim Panaccio. “They block shots. They don’t open up lanes. Goaltenders can’t see the puck.“The goalie coach has no authority. The head coach doesn’t listen to him. It’s an issue and it’s made it a challenge.”
Bryzgalov was brought in to solve the Flyers’ decade-long woes at the goaltender position but the enigmatic Russian failed to live up to expectations and is expected to be bought out after just two seasons into the nine-year, $51 million deal he signed as a free agent.
Winter said Bryzgalov was consistently displeased with the team’s defensive system and believes there is a reason the Flyers continue to struggle between the pipes.
“Yeah, Ilya has to take some responsibility for his performance,” Winter said. “At the end of the day, I think there is more wrong with Philadelphia’s goaltending than just the goaltending.
“As you and I know, goaltending is about opening up lanes, and defensive communication with goaltenders. It’s about backchecking. It’s about speed. It’s about transition game. It’s not just about the puck…
“But at the foundation of it all, if Dominik Hasek, couldn’t see the puck, as much as I admired him, and represented him for his entire career, as much as Dom was the greatest goalie who ever lived, if he can’t see it, he can’t stop it.”
Bryzgalov had amongst the league’s best numbers with the Phoenix Coyotes from 2007-11, and Winter believes it’s no coincidence of how well Sergei Bobrovsky played after leaving the Flyers’ organization.
“Ilya comes in there as a Vezina Trophy nominee and he really struggles, but plays pretty well …and Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled, leaves Philadelphia, goes to Columbus and wins the Vezina Trophy.
The Flyers are expected to officially use their compliance buyout on Bryzgalov at 11 p.m. ET. on Wednesday night.
Winter mentioned the Edmonton Oilers as a team Bryzgalov could consider once he becomes a free agent.
"He would really, really hate the weather,” Winter said. “And he and I are very, very much on the same page there. But it’s one of the teams that he and I talked about. He likes the energy here. He likes the fact, you know, he’s never played in a hockey city. He’s got a good relationship with the media. As all of you know, he’s a fun interview. He’s a great guy. He’s got a great personality. Lots of energy."
“So Edmonton is definitely a place, if they’re interested, Craig MacTavish contacts me on July 3 when we can start having these communications, Ilya will actively consider Edmonton. And, quite frankly, I’d love him to be here because it would really, really, really buoy up the sports media and the sports environment….He’s just a lot of fun.