Last off season, the Philadelphia Flyers traded to acquire the rights of Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes. Many people around the NHL thought that the Flyers had finally found their solid goaltender who could lead them to their first Stanley Cup victory in quite some time. Well, as we all know, those aspirations were eventually denied.
Bryzgalov struggled for the most part in his first season as a Flyer. He was so bad that, at one point, he was benched in one of the most important regular season games for the Flyers, the Winter Classic. Bryzgalov was also brilliant for a long stretch in the month of March. His efforts for the 2011-2012 season were equivalent to that of his previous season in Phoenix where he won 36 games. Last season, Bryzgalov won 33 times while only playing in 59 games. His GAA was identical to his last season in Phoenix.
For the most part, Bryzgalov seemed that he was too media friendly. He was very g00d to media members, always providing valuable quotes and insight for stories. But that is what Philadelphian’s become afraid of. Over the years, Philadelphia fans have seen many players on their teams be too media savvy. Everyone in Philadelphia loves a player who has a great personality, but your personality doesn’t quite get the job done all the time. If you cannot perform to their liking, you will be booed out of town. At some points last season many fans were so upset with Bryzgalov and his contract that they were wishing the NHL would adopt an amnesty clause for bad contracts, just as they do in the NBA.
So the question that appears this season is, “What happens if Bryzgalov struggles again this season?” The Philadelphian in me suggests that Bryzgalov could be run out of town by the fans if he does not produce to the expectations that he has this year.
When Bryzgalov signed in Philadelphia, the expectations to win were so high. Fans wanted to see at least 40 wins and a GAA of 2.30 or lower. Bryzgalov came from a small market team to one of the largest markets in all of professional sports. His expectations are always going to be high. The city expects each of its teams to compete and win every year, or at least give it their all.
If Bryzgalov struggles early, then the city known for its brotherly love could actually turn on one of their own. Bryzgalov knows that he has to perform in his second year. Look for the pressure to on Bryzgalov early and often. One little slip up this season could cause the 32-year old his starting spot as well as his playing time in Philadelphia.
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