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Flyers Buyout Ilya Bryzgalov’s Contract

Jun 25, 2013, 1:26 PM EDT

source:

What a difference two years make. Two years ago the Flyers were excitedly introducing Ilya Bryzgalov to Philadelphia. Paul Holmgren touted Bryz as an upper-echelon goaltender. Ed Snider hoped this was the final piece.

Two years later, on a Tuesday afternoon, the Flyers quietly announced Bryzgalov has played his final game in Orange & Black. The team has opted to use the second of its two compliance buyouts on the controversial netminder, terminating the remaining seven years of his nine-year, $51 million contract.

Bryzgalov’s cap figure of $5.67M is erased from the ledger immediately when the transaction becomes official late Wednesday evening. However, they still must pay the goalie two-thirds of his remaining salary over a period of 14 years, a sum in excess of $23 million.

Holmgren’s statement:

 “I met with Ilya this morning and informed him that we are going to exercise a compliance buy out of his contract,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “This was a very difficult business decision to make for us and we want to thank Ilya for his time here and wish him all the best moving forward.”

Many followers will find the buyout to be a long time coming. When it was revealed the new collective bargaining agreement would contain an amnesty clause to help teams get under the shrinking salary cap, Bryzgalov’s deal was an obvious candidate. Bryz would have been turning 40 as the contract expired.

His performance on the ice didn’t smooth matters over any. His first season was considered a disappointment, save for a run in which he became the franchise’s all-time leader in consecutive shutout minutes. 2013 was worse yet, as he posted a 19-17-3 record, .900 save percentage, and 2.79 goals against average.

source:  And still, the insane contract and subpar numbers may have been merely contributing factors to Bryzgalov’s demise. His recent comments denigrating the city of Philadelphia and its people alone would have made him a tough sell to many fans. There seemed to be a divide inside the dressing room as well, perhaps making a return impossible.

That may be the easiest way to justify the Flyers’ decision on the matter, because with Bryz gone the club is suddenly in need of another goaltender. They have Steve Mason, but he had been a suspect performer in Columbus since his rookie year in 08-09. 2012 second-round pick Anthony Stolarz could be at least a year away from playing in the NHL.

The front office now must pick through free agency or find a suitable trade to replace Bryzgalov, when they could have held on to him for another year and used the buyout next summer. While he received a large amount of criticism for his play, the reality is the shaky defense in front of him made it hard to judge exactly how much he factored into their problems.

Had the organization held on to him though, they ran the risk of Bryz getting injured and not being able amnesty him when the time came. Plus, the Flyers were over the cap even after Danny Briere’s buyout, so the extra money grants the front office additional flexibility. They still have to extend a qualifying offer to Erik Gustafsson, and may be interested in re-signing Simon Gagne at a potential hometown discount, among other moves.

Whether it was coming this year or next, amnestying Bryzgalov was inevitable barring an extreme turnaround in his play. Given what we saw for one month in 2012, such a change wasn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. Even still, his contract was always going to be a burden in the future.

It’s possible Bryzgalov never really got a fair shake here. It’s probable he is the head case many in the media had portrayed since his arrival. When everything is said and done, Bryz made too many enemies across the board, his contract was a mistake, and he didn’t get the job done – all of which conspired to seal his fate in Philly.

  1. BenE. - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    The end of an era.

    Reply
    • Chris - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      More like “error”

      Reply
  2. Beardy - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Awesome…. so now the Flyers have no goalie AND no defense…

    Watch Bryz go to Pittsburgh and lead them to the Cup this year. In fact, I almost expect it at this point.

    Reply
    • BenE. - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      They had no goalie last year either.

      Reply
      • Beardy - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        If you thought the goalie spot was bad last year, just wait to see how bad it will be this year. No goalie in the world would have been successful behind that defense last year. Not a single one. But, like the idiot lemmings in this town always does, they take the easy way out and blame the goalie and run him out of town. Awesome. We’ll regret this next season. Easily see a Top 3 draft pick in our future in 2014.

        We deserve to wallow in crap hockey for the next decade with management like this. Bryz was a long term investment that needed time. The team around him sucked, and hung him out to dry far too many times for their own good. I will repeat this… Bryz is not a bad goalie. He was an All Star in Phoenix. Hell, Bob was benched and deemed expendable here behind this defense only a season ago and he won the Vezina this year in friggen Columbus of all places. Its time we stop blaming the goalie, and lay the blame where the issues really reside. In management and on defense.

      • willh888 - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        so why would you want to give an expensive, clownish goalie time if the defense is crap. Why waste that money/time on a guy who costs you an enormous amount of money, and doesn’t play all that well. Don’t just hang onto a cap-load like Bryz if there’s no hope for him to be successful with a bad D, like you said.

      • BenE. - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        Beardy, you don’t make a long term investment in a 34 year old goalie with a massive cap hit. You invest in a younger project who has shown promise (Mason). You rake the front office over the coals for not investing in Bobrovsky, and bring up the Vezina, yet you won’t give the time of day to see what Steve Mason, a Calder Trophy winner, can do?

      • lavagasm - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:13 PM

        The good news Ben, is that the draft is here in 2014, so maybe we’ll have the 1st pick.

      • ASTCTer - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        No doubt MGMT is to blame for all of this. We had a clearly talented, cheap, young goalie that admittedly needed some work (Bob). Instead of, I don’t know, working with him and building a solid D-corps around him we go out and sign the best available goalie to a monster contract. A goalie with known personality issues i might add. Why the F would you dump $50 million and the title of “Philadelphia Goaltending Savior” on a guy you have personality questions about?

        I dont think fans are solely blaming Bryz for this terrible year, but to say his play was up to par is plain wrong. I blame MGMT thru and thru for this whole mess, and I would like to think a majority of other fans do too. There’s a reason the Hawks won the Cup with guys named Antii Niemi and Corey Crawford as their goalies; and that word is DEFENSE. Build it Homer, you jackass

    • willh888 - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      If the Pens want to add this amateur comedian, horray for them. All they need is another dude who just doesn’t get it.

      Reply
  3. ASTCTer - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Another move we are all excited for that is simply a fix to a prior Holmgren screw up. Please, for the love of jeebus, get rid of this Front office.

    Reply
  4. Facebones - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Right, because it was Bryz’s fault he had to face so many breakaways and odd man rushes.

    Not defending his play, but you can’t put that all on the goalie.

    Reply
  5. V02 - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Flyers: clueless management
    Sixers: clueless management
    Phillies: clueless management
    Eagles: incomplete, but probably still clueless management

    Reply
    • willh888 - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      and three of those teams are taking advantage of our loyalty. Eagles leading that category so far.

      Reply
  6. BenE. - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    This had to happen for financial reasons. The fact that Bryz couldn’t stop a 2-on-1 or steal a game just made it easier. The fans who defend Bryz say the Flyers need to improve the defense, but always seem to overlook the fact that the Flyers are well over the cap if they don’t buy out Bryz. So how does THAT improve anything, exactly?

    Reply
  7. chew - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    sign Emery and develop Stolarz.

    Reply
    • chew - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      oh yeah, and fire Jeff Reese.

      Reply
  8. Lol - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Bryz must be on cloud 9. $23 million over 14 years? That and he’s all but guaranteed to win either the Vezina or Stanley Cup next year.

    Reply
    • Lol - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:25 PM

      Oh yeah, and this paragraph is total yellow journalism crap. I expect better from this site.

      “And still, the insane contract and subpar numbers may have been merely contributing factors to Bryzgalov’s early demise. His recent comments denigrating the city of Philadelphia and its people alone would have made him a tough sell to many fans. There seemed to be a divide in the dressing room as well, perhaps making a return impossible.”

      Reply
      • Andrew Kulp - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        Care to elaborate?

      • Lol - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        I don’t think any Flyers fans are getting up in arms because Ilya says that Philly has a lot of ghettos or welfare queens. That statement isn’t exactly up for debate.

      • Andrew Kulp - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:52 PM

        So it was okay for him to say, “Too many do not work, live on welfare and get food stamps for. They just do not want to work. Their principle is: Why should I work when I can live, let them raise taxes on the rich,” and nobody in Philadelphia is or has a right to get upset about that because you say such a statement isn’t up for debate? My guess is there are plenty of people who took that personally.

      • V02 - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:54 PM

        I agreed with Bryz 100% on his Philly comments. It’s a dump. There were plenty of other reasons to want him gone.

      • BenE. - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        Did you make that post from your Obamaphone, Kulp?

      • Andrew Kulp - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        Ha, I’m not trying to get into a political discussion, but in the country’s current climate those sorts of generalizations can be construed as unsympathetic to certain people (not every person who relies on government assistance is as lazy as that narrative). And in general, it’s just poor form to talk bad about the city where you are playing. I didn’t even touch on the Stalin thing, because that’s the part that was probably the most overblown, but fans flipped over those comments as well. It’s not a stretch at all to say Bryz said a lot of things that alienated people who root for the Flyers, and did so increasingly over the past few months. Among those, I thought at least, were what he said about the city and its people.

      • BenE. - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:33 PM

        Yeah I agree it’s bad form. Most athletes just go with the standard “it’s great to be in a great city like X with great fans.” But Bryz isn’t like most athletes. I think what the guy up top took issue with is an apparent downplaying of how brutal Bryz was on the ice while putting too much weight on his off-ice comments. The comments were just the nail in the coffin, but his fate was all but official anyway.

  9. Sean - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Fire Jeff Reese.

    Reply
  10. Hiccup - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    No player should denigrate a city and it’s people especially while being paid a ridiculous amount of money for sub-par play. It’s contracts like this that raise ticket prices that many people can’t afford. So if you put down the city with thoughtless slurs why are you here? Yes out of touch and needs to go, good riddance.

    Reply
  11. rwwhit - Jun 25, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Here’s a thought…I wonder how much of his 23 mil gets taxed by the state and city. Thinking he’s going to be supporting a lot of people on welfare.

    Reply

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