The Flyers’ hopes for success in the playoffs are dependent on Bryzgalov. Teams can’t overcome a bad goal or two very often during the postseason. In an effort to improve the relationship between the sensitive goalie and the team’s fans, I’ve written the following letter on behalf of Flyers fans. Hope you don’t mind.
We love you. We really do.
We know sometimes we have a weird way of showing our love. And sometimes we forget that boos can hurt. But you have to understand where we’re coming from.
We’ve had many bad relationships with goalies. Did we ever tell you about Roman Cechmanek? He was as goofy as you are … but not nearly as funny and charming!
We’re not going to name all the goalies we’ve invested our time and money in who haven’t worked out. We know you don’t want to hear about all of our bad relationships. Plus, it’s too painful for us to discuss all of them.
But it’s been a revolving door for more than 20 years. We want that revolving door to stop spinning. We want a long-term relationship with one goalie.
Ilya, that goalie is you.
We want to make this relationship work. We know you want it to work, too. So here are some ideas to help you find peace in your soul and improve our relationship.
The first step is to spend a little time apart. We’ve already done that with your little road trip through Western Canada and California. The time apart has helped. The longer you’ve been away, the more you seem at peace. You were darn good against the Oilers and Sharks. You were also terrific during the shootout at Calgary. We knew you could do it!
The next step is for you to be a little less open about your feelings. Usually, we have the opposite problem with our relationships. People shut us out from their true feelings. But, Ilya, you are an open book.
We love your openness. We don’t want you to change the way you feel. But you don’t have to tell us every emotion that you’re feeling. It might be better for all of us if sometimes you keep your feelings to yourself. Not all the time. Just some of the time. Please.
And please don’t tell us we care too much. If we didn’t care so much, you wouldn’t be making so much money. Maybe we can try to express how much we care in a more constructive fashion, but we’ll never stop caring, so don’t tell us we care too much. Even if you believe it’s true, that’s one of those opinions you should keep to yourself.
Here’s another suggestion: change your middle name to “Bruce.” No, Bruce isn’t a Russian name. But if you change your name, when we boo you – sorry, if we boo you – in the future, you can pretend we’re chanting your name. Go to one of the upcoming Bruce Springsteen concerts in Philly. You’ll hear the crowd yelling, “Bruuuuuuuuuce!” When you hear people boo, just pretend it’s done out of love. (Kind of like you pretended the Winnipeg crowd was chanting “Ilya” because they like you instead of because they were mocking you.)
Ilya, we know you love history. Well, we’ve got a lot of history with goalies. Not all of it is bad, so you can forget all that stuff you’ve heard about our goalies being cursed.
And guess what? Some of the goalies we love aren’t exactly normal. Kind of like you.
As you saw at the Winter Classic Alumni Game, our love affair with Bernie Parent continues. Don’t be jealous. We’ve got plenty of love to go around.
Our point is that Bernie is a little … unusual. Have you talked to Bernie? Wonderful guy. Always smiling. But watch that HBO special on the Broad Street Bullies from two years ago. Bernie talks about taking afternoon naps with his dog and how much he loves The Three Stooges. One of the Stooges is from Philadelphia. Did you know that? Anyway, Bobby Taylor, Bernie’s backup, talks about Bernie loving to sniff new shoes – other people’s new shoes.
None of those things bother us. You know why? Because Bernie won the Stanley Cup.
Ron Hextall didn’t win a Stanley Cup, but we still love him. And he’s CRAZY! Seriously. Watch some old film of Hexy. He’s nuts, but he wore his heart on his sleeve – not literally; that’s an American expression – and we loved him for it.
Don’t get the wrong idea. We don’t want you to try to be Bernie or Hexy. We want you to be yourself. But what we want you to see is that, like Bernie and Hexy, if you build a successful relationship with us, you could be “humangous big” in this city for the rest of your life. Ask Bernie when was the last time he paid for a meal or drink.
Ilya, there’s one more thing we want you to do. We saved it for last because it’s the most important thing: STOP THE DAMN PUCK!!!
If you stop the puck, everything else will take care of itself. Not only will you find the peace in your soul to play in this city, you will find the peace to live here. Forever.
Hopes this letter helps. We write because we care.