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Ilya Bryzgalov responds to criticism from Jakub Voracek, questions lack of leadership in Flyers locker room

Mike Olivson   ·   14 février 2020
The Spittin Chiclets podcast has started more than its fair share of controversies. Just recently, Jeremy Roenick ended up losing his job with NBC Sports over comments he made on the podcast. Paul Bissonette, Ryan Whitney, and Rear Admiral of Barstool Sports have a tendency to get guests to relax and say things that normally stay inside the locker room.

It came without surprise that in November, the normally reserved Jakub Voracek expressed his frustration with Ilya Bryzgalov, the goaltender/philosopher who became known for his inconsistent play and larger than life personality, famously documented on HBO's 24/7 series leading up to the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. Bryzgalov's sense of humour and self-deprecating interviews given during the height of his struggles rubbed Voracek the wrong way. "They hit and missed with Bryz," said Voracek of the Flyers' never-ending search for a star goalie. "You can f*** around once in a while...but he was doing it every day. At this point...hey buddy, you're not funny anymore, just shut the f*** up and play the goal."

HOCKEY - QUIZ
Which player scored 38 goals in the 2011-12 NHL season?
ALEX OVECHKIN
COREY PERRY
ILYA KOVALCHUK
MATT MOULSON
PHIL KESSEL
SCOTT HARTNELL


When he was interviewed by Igor Eronko of Sport Express recently, Bryzgalov was somewhat surprised to find out about Voracek's comments. His response ended up being an unintentional broadside against the leadership structure of the Flyers organization, or lack thereof. (By strange coincidence, Eronko was a guest on the same episode of Spittin Chiclets as Voracek.)

"Ha ha. Funny. They love to talk behind my back," said Bryzgalov. "Why didn't he just tell me then? Come over, say: 'Ilyusha, you're a bit much. Why don't you focus on the game?' I'd never heard him say anything [then]. I wasn't 'happy' in Philadelphia. I think he's got some alternate reality in his mind. I was sad there. I wasn't in a joking mood."

When asked if anyone had confronted him back then, Bryzgalov was adamant. "No. No one and never. That's the interesting thing, they kept quiet."

"Even Claude Giroux?" asked Eronko.

"What could he say to me?" said Bryzgalov.

"I don't know. He was the team captain (as of January 2013) and a leader," persisted Eronko.

"So what if he is captain? And what is a 'leader'?", said Bryzgalov. "They can appoint you as a leader. Someone came and appointed him. Now captain of the Flyers, Claude Giroux. There could be people who disagree. When I was in Anaheim, our captain was Scott Niedermayer. His captaincy was absolute, without a shred of doubt. Because he was respected by everyone. Respect that was earned by his treatment of teammates, hard work, results, behaviour away from the ice. There are a lot of factors. But you looked and knew that he was a real captain. A leader on and off the ice. Not an appointee, a real leader. You had the utmost of respect for him. Everything he said, you listened. But there are other types of captains, who get appointed to the job because they are nominally the best player on the team. And that's even if half the team doesn't respect him."

"Is that about Giroux?" Eronko prodded.

"No, in general," said Bryzgalov. "In the NHL, you don't vote for a captain, they're appointed [by management and coaches]. The 'C' patch can be meaningless."

"Then perhaps Scott Hartnell and Max Talbot were the real captains?" suggested Eronko.

"I wouldn't say that," said Bryzgalov. "We had no captains. No one who was fit for the job. We didn't have a Scott Niedermayer. We had skilled players, but no one who would command absolute respect."



"Even Chris Pronger? (Flyer's captain before Giroux)" asked Eronko.

"Even Pronger," said Bryzgalov. "{As a basis for comparison], when Niedermayer was considering retirement after winning the Cup [with the Ducks] in 2007, Pronger was appointed captain [the next season]. The locker room atmosphere changed immediately. Say we lost, played badly. Chris tried to talk, but no one listened. People were unlacing their skates, taking off tape, busying themselves with something else, because [Pronger] did not command respect like Niedermayer did."

Source: Igor Eronko, Sport Express
SURVEY
Which scenario would you prefer if the NHL season restart?
END OF REGULAR SEASON + PLAYOFFS
IMMEDIATELY PLAYOFFS WITH 16 TEAMS
IMMEDIATELY PLAYOFFS WITH MORE TEAMS
IT'S BETTER TO CANCEL THE SEASON
HOCKEY - QUIZ
Which player scored 38 goals in the 2011-12 NHL season?
ALEX OVECHKIN
COREY PERRY
ILYA KOVALCHUK
MATT MOULSON
PHIL KESSEL
SCOTT HARTNELL
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