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June 26, 2013 | 10:56am ET
Bryzgalov speaks after buyout
By David Strehle, TheFourthPeriod.com

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Through the "magic" of the new CBA, Ilya Bryzgalov will be joining Danny Briere as the next ex-Philadelphia Flyer as the team announced on Tuesday their intentions to use the amnesty buyout clause on the remaining seven years of the netminder's contract.

The move ends a two-year relationship between Bryzgalov and the club that signed him to a nine-year, $51 million pact back in the summer of 2011.

Bryzgalov's arrival was supposed to erase any question marks in the Flyers' crease, especially after Ed Snider's rant following that spring's postseason debacle where Peter Laviolette employed the 'carousel of goalies' -- namely Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher, and Michael Leighton.

Over the course of his two seasons with the Flyers, Bryzgalov posted a 52-33-10 mark (14th-best in franchise history), while recording the 6th-lowest GAA (2.60) and 3rd-highest save percentage (.905) of any Philadelphia goalkeepers with at least 90 appearances.

Though Bryzgalov played well in front of an oftentimes patchwork defense, the lasting memories of the goaltender for most Flyers' fans will be his quirkiness and stormy relationship with Philadelphia's mainstream media.

Today, through his agent, Ritch Winter, this statement was released on Bryzgalov's reaction:

"As my family and I move forward to meet the new challenges ahead, I could not leave Philadelphia without publicly thanking Mr. Snider for the faith he showed in me when he committed to the long term contract that has secured my family's financial future and acknowledging his passion for the game of hockey. Jeniya and I really appreciate his faith in me and what he has done for our family. Mr. Snider has an amazing energy for the deals he does and for winning. Hockey fans in this area should consider themselves lucky to have the team they cheer for led by a man who is as passionate about winning and doing whatever it takes to win as Flyers' fans are. Getting to know Mr. Snider, has been a great experience. To see his passion for this game has been inspiring.

"I am grateful for teammates, to management and fans for the support I felt from so many of them through some very dark days and difficult situations. I have made many friends here -- on the team, in the organization, among the media and throughout the community. Don't ever think that I didn't appreciate the kind comments of support made in the media by teammates and management and in private by so many very nice people I met on the streets of Philadelphia and in the surrounding area.

"I appreciate this experience more than many of you will know. I will learn from it. I have always said that a heavy sword makes a very strong arm. I intend to take this experience with me to my new team, to help me be stronger - a better player and, hopefully, a better person. At the end of the day, that is the challenge we all need to wrestle with.

"I look forward to the bright future ahead, but will never forget my time with the Philadelphia Flyers. For this time and this experience, I am grateful."

The memo then proceeded to say the following:

"FOR FURTHER COMMENT, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO WALK UP TO ILYA BRYZGALOV NEXT YEAR AT TRAINING CAMP. HE AND HIS ADVISORS WILL HAVE NO FURTHER COMMENT UNTIL THAT TIME."

The Flyers announced last week they would exercise their first buyout on Briere and the final two years of his $6.5 million cap hit, and the Philly media had fervently asked Bryzgalov if he believed Paul Holmgren and the Flyers would use the same on the netminder. His repeated answer of "I have no control over that" was absolutely correct, but some recent strange behaviors -- offbeat by even his standards -- spoke much more to what he wanted to see as the eventual outcome.

It would seem Bryzgalov had had enough of Philadelphia and the seemingly endless media scrutiny, and the relationship may have already soured him on Philadelphia altogether. But he handled his press release with class and did not single anyone out as having given a difficult time during his tenure.

My views had been very clear as to the goaltender and had written many times of the Flyers defensive woes as the true biggest shortcoming on the squad. While not shining as the best NHL goalie during the last two years, Bryzgalov had certainly been one of the better ones in the league during that time frame.

From March of 2012 until late this season he was the team's MVP, only faltering somewhat late in the 2012-13 campaign after starting nearly every single contest. Remember, Philadelphia went almost the entire year without a netminder other than Bryzgalov posting a victory, becoming the last club to have multiple winners when newly-acquired Steve Mason won on April 16.

It became apparent Bryzgalov would never finish the entirety of his contract in Philadelphia, one that was bad the day it was signed. Seven more years at nearly $5.7 million annually, especially with the upcoming season's salary cap dropping by $6 million, had his ticket stamped out of town long before yesterday's announcement.

There have been rumblings in recent weeks that Bryzgalov was not popular with his teammates, and the last thing a squad attempting to rebound from a second non-playoff year in the last seven needed was any internal turmoil to serve as a distraction.

For better or for worse at the moment, this is Steve Mason's team.

As far as Bryzgalov and the Flyers are concerned, the best interest for both parties was to proceed with the inevitable divorce sooner rather than later.

The time was right for both parties to move on.

David Strehle is the Philadelphia Correspondent for The Fourth Period.


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