Edmonton Oilers GM heard Ilya Bryzgalov is a ‘terrible’ person

Edmonton Oilers GM heard Ilya Bryzgalov is a ‘terrible’ person

Ilya Bryzgalov is back in the NHL after a brief conditioning stint with the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate. It’s somewhat surprising it happened so fast. Little more than a month ago, Bryz was being courted by an ECHL franchise.

Then again, I suppose Edmonton isn’t much better. The Oilers have a 5-15-2 record this season, good for the second-lowest point total in the league. And in the stacked Western Conference, it will be difficult to make up that ground.

Oilers GM and former Philadelphia Flyer Craig MacTavish is excited about the addition nonetheless, and according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, “The goalie battle is now officially on in Edmonton.” Good luck with that.

MacTavish must’ve heard about the killer party Philly threw when the organization bought out Bryz’s contract, because he admitted there was some trepidation before signing. The Oilers GM took some time to inquire about the cosmonaut’s reputation before putting ink to paper, and not surprisingly the responses were all over the spectrum.

"We did homework in terms of the character," said MacTavish. "You hear both ends of the spectrum. You heard people say, 'He's a good guy, he's not a problem, he's going to be very easy to work with.' Then you also heard, 'He's a terrible guy.' I've never seen this varied an opinion on a guy. Normally people focus in on the same conclusion. But this was quite different."

"Everybody likes an underdog story, and he can quickly get into that position here," said MacTavish. "He's a colorful character. If he plays well, he's got a chance to really resurrect his image and his game. There's a lot on the line. It probably won't be seamless, but he's got a chance.

I don’t know about you, but I’d put more weight in “terrible person” than “good guy.” It just seems more honest.

Or you could simply go by the fact that Bryzgalov’s previous employer paid $23 million to be rid of him.

MacTavish was quick to point out that signing Bryz didn’t cost his team much, and with his club’s season already circling the drain, he probably figured they had nothing to lose.

For what it’s worth, Bryz didn’t have much to say about his two-year stint with Philadelphia when he met the Edmonton press corps. Then again, the Flyers are paying him $23 million over the next 14 years to play hockey wherever he wants, so Bryz probably feels very content right now.

>> Oilers’ goalie competition heating up [ESPN]

The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The biggest sports story in town is the Sixers, winners of 4 of 5 and an exhilarating team on the floor, led by a superstar player who seems to actually get us as a fan base. And to think, all it took to bring us to this point was getting rid of Sam Hinkie.

Look at what a dark place the Sixers were in a year ago. They were in last place, with the league’s worst roster and no hope for the future except for a bunch of ill-defined future draft picks. And they were led by a general manager with absolutely zero interest in winning, explaining himself, or (worst of all) appearing on the WIP Morning Show. 

But now, there’s hope. Joel Embiid is the real deal. The supporting cast is rapidly improving, with guys like T.J. McConnell, Robert Covington and Dario Saric looking like valuable supporting players, and Ben Simmons joining them very soon. 

I know the Hinkie apologists are going to say these improvements are because of him and that he deserves credit -- please. To credit Hinkie with drafting Joel Embiid is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of in all my years of watching Philadelphia sports. We all know Hinkie wanted Andrew Wiggins -- therefore, he gets no credit for drafting Embiid. And as Bob Brookover pointed out last week, Embiid is a Sixer because of luck.  

Ben Simmons, of course, was drafted by Bryan Colangelo, who also acquired the best Sixer since Thaddeus Young, Ersan Ilyasova. And if the two first-round picks next year turn out to be stars, Colangelo will get credit for those, too

Hinkie did things like draft three centers in a  row, take Jahlil Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis, trade valuable players like Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels for nothing, and sign no veterans at all for three years. 

Joel Embiid is a winner, Sam Hinkie is a loser, and that’s all there is to it.  

In other Sixers news, it was nice to see Simmons warming up on the court last week against Boston- when Embiid did that, it meant he was 16-18 months away from returning to action. In the last two years, the Sixers lead the league in pre-game social media posts featuring players who aren’t active for that night’s game. 

And speaking of records, congrats to Nerlens Noel for breaking Shane Victorino’s longstanding local athlete record for use of “you know” in a single interview, when he talked to Woj last week

Other Philly sports takes: 

The Cowboys’ loss to the Packers on Sunday proves two things: Dak Prescott is a fraud, and the Cowboys were never very good anyway. The only reason they went 13-3 was the easy schedule. 

Can you believe Allen Iverson getting photographed in a Cowboys jersey? Doesn’t he know the rules? If you play in Philly, you must root for every one of the city’s teams, regardless of circumstance, for the rest of your life. 

Even so, shame on the Knicks’ Derrick Rose for no-showing a game. If you want to be a legendary NBA guard, you’re supposed to skip PRACTICES, not games. Not a game. 

Angelo made a good point: Embiid is so perfect as a Philadelphia athlete that it makes me notice how much Carson Wentz isn’t. Hunting trips? Shotgun gifts? Getting locked in a gas station bathroom? That’s just not cutting it. Carson, immediately, needs to start drinking Shirley Temples, imitating pro wrestler entrances, and insulting porn stars on Instagram, or else I fear he won’t last in this town. 

Another good column by Marcus Hayes -- the Eagles must sacrifice multiple draft picks to trade up for wide receiver Mike Williams. Whatever it takes. 

Come on Eagles- no room on the staff for either of Buddy’s sons? How about both? 

Follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter. 

Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

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Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

At 16-2-1, Penn State's men's hockey team is ranked first in the nation for the first time in program history.

The Nittany Lions have improved each of the last four years under head coach Guy Gadowsky. 

Their record by year:

      2013-14: 8-26-2
      2014-15: 18-15-4
Last season: 21-13-4
This season: 16-2-1

Penn State received 30 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO Division I poll. Denver is ranked No. 2, followed by Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth and Massachusetts-Lowell (see USCHO poll).

Penn State was ranked fourth last week before sweeping Michigan State.