As I was driving home today, I heard this question asked. And most people, including the on air talent, said that they would get out of Ilya Bryzgalov's contract if they could. And that made me think. Would I do the same thing? Could I cut loose Bryzgalov and hope to find something better?
In a word, no. Yes it's true, Bryz had a terrible goals against average in the playoffs. And yes, he let in a choke goal in game 5 against the Devils. But in the Pittsburgh series, the Flyers played out of their minds. I could have played goalie for the Flyers against the Penguins. When it came to the Devils, it was the defense that let the team down, not Bryzgalov.
I think the reason people would let him go is because of his attitude and regular season play. Bryz is a character. I don't think we need to rehash all the universe and bear in the woods quotes here. Suffice to say we all know he's said them. And I have to admit, I kind of like the attitude. He's a character, and after years of Mike Richards interviews, a character is just what this town needs.
So we come down to his regular season play. Streaky, yes. But after he settled down in Philly, and Laviolette stuck with him, Bryz began to play unstoppable hockey. He was the best goalie in the league coming down the stretch, until he broke his foot. And even with that injury, the Flyers won a playoff series. A settled Bryz is the Bryzgalov everyone was hoping for. And what this team needs.
So no, I would sure as hell not trade him. And I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say for years to come.