Flyers Buyout Ilya Bryzgalov’s Contract

Flyers Buyout Ilya Bryzgalov’s Contract

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.

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.

Matt Rhule thanks Temple, Philadelphia in full page ad in Inquirer

Matt Rhule thanks Temple, Philadelphia in full page ad in Inquirer

On Tuesday, the Matt Rhule era at Temple ended.

Rhule bolted North Broad Street for Baylor University, from the lowly American Athletic Conference to the Big 12, a natural progression in college football.

And, in a classy move, Rhule took out a full page ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer thanking Philadelphia and Temple.

As for Temple — to quote a common phrase Rhule used while at Temple — what's next?

We don't know yet, but we'll find out in the coming weeks.

Led by interim head coach Ed Foley, No. 24 Temple will face Wake Forrest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored in the second period and Jaroslav Halak stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Jason Chimera and Scott Mayfield also scored at the Barclays Center to help the last-place Islanders improve to 4-0-1 in their last five games.

Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 28 saves. The Rangers have alternated wins and losses in regulation in their last eight games.

Halak beat Lundqvist for the ninth time in their last 10 matchups. Halak had won eight straight -- including the last five after joining the Islanders before the 2014-15 season -- before Lundqvist ended the streak in the Rangers' 5-3 win in the season opener Oct. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is now 1-6-1 in his last eight against the Islanders (see full recap).

Schwartz lifts Blues over Canadiens in OT
ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz got his second goal of the game in overtime, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis, which has won four of five. The Blues rallied from a 2-0 deficit and have a point in their last 13 home games.

Tomas Plekanec and Paul Byron scored for Montreal, which completed a five-game trip 2-3.

Goalie Jake Allen made 28 saves to improve to 13-3-3.

Schwartz lifted a backhander past goalie Al Montoya with 1:22 left in overtime.

Stastny and Schwartz scored in a 2:51 span in the third period to tie it at 2 (see full recap).

Blackhawks blank Coyotes to snap modest skid
CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa had two goals, Scott Darling made 22 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game slide.

Artem Anisimov and Dennis Rasmussen also scored to help Chicago maintain a three-point lead over St. Louis in the Central Division.

Darling made a handful of tough stops but wasn't heavily tested in his first shutout this season and third of his career. He started his third straight game in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Hossa scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals in his 27th game -- surpassing his total of 13 last season in 64 contests (see full recap).