Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is the Tom Hanks of NHL locker room interviews.
He can do comedy ("Why you heff to be mad? It's just hockey.") as brilliantly as he can do drama ("I'm lost in the woods right now.") Also, he sounds like Tom Hanks in "The Terminal." Assuming you saw "The Terminal." Which you probably didn't.
As reporters say, Bryzgalov is interview gold. But since he's not exactly off to the best start in Year 1 of his 9-year deal, the goalie and Flyers decided it would be best if the media wasn't allowed inside the gold mine so frequently.
On Monday morning, Sam Carchidi of Broad Street Bull reported on a new media policy for the Bryz:
Through the team's public-relations department, Bryzgalov requested that he no longer talk to the media (and, in effect, the fans) except after games in which he plays.
The coaching staff and management supported the decision, the Flyers said. (The feeling here is they may have suggested it.)
That policy lasted a few hours until the Flyers revised it, according to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly:
On Friday, goalie coach Jeff Reese met with the media and talked about Bryzgalov's recent play and why things had gone south on him. Reese said more than once that he felt Bryzgalov was "distracted" by number of things, among them, his daily interactions with the media.
Hours after the policy was stated, the Flyers revised it. Now, the team says, Bryzgalov will not talk during the day of a game or the day before a game.
So, in theory: Over the next week, the first time Bryzgalov would be available in a non-postgame situation would be Sunday, Nov. 6.
This is, frankly, a serious matter for the writers tasked with covering this hockey team. Bryzgalov is, arguably, the team's biggest newsmaker and most important player right now. So Carchidi has filed a complaint with the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
"Do the math," said PHWA Executive V.P. Mark Spector, who writes for Sportsnet. He said there's a chance that a writer who doesn't travel with the team would have access to Bryzgalov for less than 30 games a season.
"You have to make him available to the press," said Spector, who said the PHWA is looking into the matter.
This is probably a case of Flyers' brass micro-managing their investment, believing that a barrage of daily questions pointed at a sensitive soul with an .880 save percentage doesn't do a goalie good.
One assumes it'll end when (and if) Bryzgalov's struggles end, but it's still a frustrating precedent, no matter how aggressive the Philly media can get (ask Mike Richards … he'll talk to you now).