Ilya Bryzgalov to Talk Less: Do You Care as a Fan?

Ilya Bryzgalov to Talk Less: Do You Care as a Fan?

Ilya Bryzgalov has been inconsistent between the pipes for the Flyers early this season. While his play has been shaky at times, his interaction with the media has regularly been nothing short of entertaining. That appears to be coming to an end -- at least partially, and hopefully only temporarily.

In an unexpected and unpopular media relations move, the Flyers announced that their big-dollar off-season goalie acquisition "will no longer talk to the media except in postgame situations in which he plays."

From CSN's story, "[Flyers goalie coach Jeff] Reese said more than once that he felt Bryzgalov was “distracted” by [a] number of things, among them, his daily interactions with the media." It's safe to say the Philly media is quite different than that in Phoenix. The Flyers dressing room is mobbed with throngs of reporters, bloggers, cameramen and people milling about following every game. While their numbers are smaller on off days in Voorhees, there is a constant media presence surrounding the team and its players. Most of the time, the attention benefits the team, with more coverage usually translating to more interest among the public. But, at least for now and with this player, it seems the Flyers are willing to take that risk and silence their most interesting interview.

For however long this lasts -- a week, a month, a season, nine years -- we'll miss the frequency of hilarious quotes from the Russian. But we also see the Flyers side in this. First, it's been indicated that Bryzgalov is the one who wants to go rogue. We have no idea the degree to which this is true, versus the Flyers being the driving force. But, if Bryzgalov or his coach thought interacting with the media was affecting his play -- which hasn't been great so far -- then it's hard to fault the them for acting on it.

What happens on the ice trumps everything else, right?

Is the media "barrage" an excuse? Possibly. But Bryz's mind clearly wasn't in the right place, and it's his coach's job to get it there.

Of course, it could also backfire, with the loquacious Russian missing the spotlight he doesn't seem to mind. And, at least in the immediate aftermath, there's more media attention on Bryzgalov than ever, with the focus right now being his newly limited access. Is it better to make headlines at Puck Daddy because you're "lost in the woods" or because you're being handled with kid gloves?

There wasn't much chance the Flyers scribes, a vocal group, were going to let this just happen without much fanfare. Their reaction to Bryzgalov's very limited availability is predictably upset. Bryz's colorful quotes make their job a whole lot easier, so without them, they'll have to dig a little deeper and find interesting things from the mouths of other Flyers players. If you've seen Postgame Live much, there often isn't a whole lot there. Getting a non-generic quote from an athlete usually isn't an easy task, but Bryzgalov is soundbite gold, with his accent adding flavor to an already entertaining routine.

But when you do get a perfect quote, it can be used as the focal point of a story. There's often danger in that, however, as Gus Haynes from the Wire once put it, the best stories focus little on what the subjects themselves have to say, but are based rather on observations made by the author.

Flyers beat writer Randy Miller was among the most vocal about sharing his displeasure with the new Bryzgalov availability, noting that he believes there may be some NHL rule stating every player must be made available every day. Puck Daddy's coverage points out that Sam Carchidi has filed a complaint with the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

As someone who has spent plenty of time in a few Philadelphia sports teams' locker rooms in recent years, my take is that if players don't want to talk to the media, they won't, even if they are "available." And, I don't believe they should be forced to. Mike Richards was clearly a guy who wanted to be captain on the ice and probably in the locker room, but he had no desire whatsoever to talk to the local media, and the result was a series of bitter exchanges over everything from partying to inconsistent play.

If they're forced to talk, most players will only give generic lines you've heard a thousands times already. Bryzgalov was an exception to that, but according to the team, he seems to want and/or need some time out of the spotlight when he's not on the ice. Or, if you don't believe it's coming from Bryz, the team wants it for him.

My question to you, the fans, is do you care that your goalie may talk less (possibly a lot less)? Is that a big deal to you? Or is your only concern how he performs on the ice?

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.

The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.

“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."

Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries. 

He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova (8-0) at La Salle (4-2) 
7 p.m. at The Palestra

Villanova, now the top-ranked team in the country, travels to the Palestra on Tuesday night for another Big 5 game, this one against La Salle (the home team), which has won three straight games.

Let's get you ready for the matchup:

Last time out
La Salle beat Bucknell, 83-73, on Saturday.

Villanova won, 88-47, over Saint Joseph’s.

Scouting report
Villanova, which is undefeated, has become the No. 1 team in the country after beating St. Joe’s handily on Saturday. Josh Hart, who had a triple-double in the game, has been a major reason for the Wildcats' success so far this season. The senior is averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. 

La Salle has won three games in a row after losing at the buzzer to Texas Southern on its homecoming game. Against Bucknell, Jordan Price had 20 points, while B.J. Johnson had 22. Johnson, a transfer from Syracuse, leads the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game.

What it means
Villanova is the best in the country right now, and it moved up to No. 1 after Kentucky lost to UCLA. Another win will give the Wildcats good momentum heading into their Saturday matchup with No. 23 Notre Dame. A victory would also extend Villanova's all-time record Big 5 winning streak to 16 games.

La Salle head coach John Gianinni could potentially be on the hot seat if the Explorers suffer another poor season. A win against the defending national champions would alleviate any chatter about his status.

Series history
This is the first and only time the Big 5 rivals will meet this season. Jay Wright is 13-2 all-time against the Explorers, and his group blew them out last season, 76-47.

What’s next?
La Salle will head to Miami for the Hoophall Miami Invitational to take on Georgetown this Saturday at the American Airlines Arena.

Villanova travels to Newark, New Jersey, to meet No. 23 Notre Dame at the Prudential Center.