It pains me to say it…but Ilya Bryzgalov’s comments are hypocritical

Ilya Bryzgalov – Courtesy of Frenz Photography

Yesterday, Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy published the transcript of a video interview done by SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov and KHL.RU‘s Alexander Shevchenko with Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

It pains me a little bit to be writing this because I really like Bryzgalov. All hockey related items aside, I think he is a very intelligent, likable guy, and I genuinely feel bad for the hoopla that has gone on around him in the past two years. In fact, I tweeted this yesterday  and truly mean it.

Just writing the headline for this article made me a bit upset with myself because I felt like I was piling on the guy. It’s not my intention, but in this specific case I think it’s true. I simply wanted to call attention to two comments because they are something I can really relate to. I feel too strongly about it not to.

 

From Puck Daddy:

Q: It seems at times that you skillfully change topics. They try to tell you that the price doesn’t reflect the quality, and you try to steer the conversation in a direction different from the questions asked. You tell them they don’t understand hockey, and they are trying to figure out your game. Is this the cause of the misunderstanding? 

A: “Perhaps. It is very possible. They, journalists, are not the ones who should be worried when the price doesn’t reflect the quality. The management should be worried about that, and not journalists. They are not the ones paying me out of their pocket.”

 

The “They…are not the ones who should be worried” comment hits home for me a little bit. Presumably, when he says “when the price doesn’t reflect the quality” and then discusses management, he is alluding to the idea that he may not be performing as well as his cap hit/contract might suggest he should.

For years and years, before I ever had even given a thought to putting my thoughts on digital paper, I heard similar comments from people around me. If I criticized a player, a trade, or a signing for contractual reasons I had friends and family telling me “who cares? It’s not your money. Why do you care about that contract stuff?”

Well, “that contract stuff” directly affects the team that skates out onto the ice every night. I found it a bit silly that people would entirely dismiss that aspect of the game. I loved the team so much (and still do, of course) that it wasn’t enough for me to just enjoy the players that were wearing the sweater that night. I wanted those players wearing that sweater for as long as possible. I wanted to see even better players pull on the orange and black; and I wanted that team to hoist a Stanley Cup. And that’s why that “contract stuff” mattered to me.

In a vacuum, that comment by Bryzgalov would never have excited me enough that I felt compelled to write about it. However, it’s his response to a later question that made me feel as if Bryzgalov is a bit of a hypocrite, at least on this specific topic.

 

Q: A couple of years ago you said that the level of Russian journalists, sports journalists, is still lower than in the US. Have you since changed your opinion? 

A: “It depends. These types of comparisons are thankless. For example, there are a few amazing journalists in Canada who dissect everything thoroughly and correctly: what needs to be done, what needs to be changed. You read those and you realize that the person knows what he is talking about, and the [cited] problems really exist. At the same time you come across a journalist who writes complete junk… Just like that there is a good hockey player, and there is a bad hockey player. That’s why you can’t say journalists in Russia are all bad and vice versa. It is wrong. There is enough of any kind everywhere.”

 

So in an earlier comment he states that journalists “are not the ones who should be worried when the price doesn’t reflect quality” and yet he references “amazing journalists” who  ”dissect everything”, and discuss “what needs to be done” and “what needs to be changed”?

I’m sorry, but that’s hypocritical. I do my best for almost every article I write (because I tend to write so heavily about contracts and the CBA) to “dissect everything” and discuss “what needs to be done” and “what needs to be changed”. It’s all I try to do. And part of doing that is analyzing “when the price doesn’t reflect quality”.

Now, it’s important to note that his comments about being correct are 100% valid. Obviously, that is the number one requirement of a journalist of any kind. After all,  there’s no point in dissecting anything if you don’t do it well and you don’t do it correctly.

But just like everyone asked me “why do you worry about that stuff” when I was a teenager who had never written a thing, don’t go saying that journalists shouldn’t worry about it and then praise other journalists for “dissecting everything”. Last I checked, contracts are included in “everything”.

I still love Bryz the person, and I tend to agree with much of what he says; but in this case…I’ll never stop caring about “that contract stuff”. It’s part of what makes an “amazing journalist” (not that I am, or ever will be, one).