Ilya Insanity: On Sleepgate, Blousegate, and the Over-Sensationalized News

Ask a Flyers fan who they think the most controversial player on the team is, and it’s likely that all of them will say Ilya Bryzgalov. But is Bryz really all that controversial? And even if he is, what’s the big deal?

We all laughed about getting Bryzgalov once we saw that great YouTube video back from when he was with the Anaheim Ducks, when he asked a reporter why they heff to be mad. We were so excited to have the funny Russian guy on our team. And then he had a lackluster first season – save for some really high points here and there – and we were ready to ship him back to his homeland.

But Bryz returned for his second season with the Flyers, and though he didn’t have the best season statistically speaking, he was a huge reason why the Flyers didn’t finish much lower in the standings. With an overly-depleted defense in front of him and an offense who could barely find their bearings, let alone goals, he didn’t have much to work with. And he could’ve been much, much worse. But he wasn’t. And still, people are clamoring to get him out of Philadelphia. Why?

The team acquired Steve Mason from Columbus, and there’s no denying that Mason was really good during the final stretch of games. He impressed me, that’s for sure. But Mason is not the baby-faced messiah, coming to save us from the big bad Bryz. There are several teams that have two good goaltenders in their system. You would think that everyone would be thrilled to have such talent between the pipes, especially after years of goaltending woes.

And then, of course, there’s the off-ice business. Sleepgate. Blousegate. Two of the most ridiculous, over-sensationalized stories of the season. Oh, and we can’t forget how Bryz apparently can’t wait to get out of Philly, since he said he had no control over whether or not he stays. It’s like the man opens his mouth and says one word, and it’s more overanalyzed than Monica Lewinsky’s dress.

The mainstream media gets angry when Bryz doesn’t want to speak to them. They get angry when he does. Is that what all of this is about? They blow up some ridiculous story about him because they don’t like what he does give them? Give me a break. This is the man who compared his husky to a beautiful woman. Do you really think he chooses his words carefully?

Do I think Bryz should think before he speaks more often? Yeah, sure, but so should everyone else in the world. We’ve all said stupid things before catching the words coming out of our mouths. Do I think he’s wrong for being blatantly honest with the media at times? Absolutely not. It’s refreshing to have a guy talk about things honestly than just give the same generic answers.

Recently, Bryzgalov called the mainstream media out for the negative pieces he’s read in the papers since coming to Philadelphia. Was it the smartest thing for him to do, going after the people who pass information along to the fans? Probably not. But he was fed up, and it’s understandable. Negativity is part of the business, but that doesn’t mean the players have to like it.

Unfortunately, that kind of thing only makes the target on Bryzgalov’s back bigger. But, who knows. Maybe his words will be taken to heart, or at least into consideration, next time a writer starts to type up their next story.

There are plenty of good stories that lie within the Flyers organization. We don’t need Sleepgate or Blousegate or any of those other ridiculous pieces that shouldn’t have ever been put to press. Flyers fans deserve better, and the media can do better.