Cheese Steaks, Twitter, and Russian: The Ilya Bryzgalov saga
For those of you that have been living under a rock the past few weeks, the Flyers have acquired the rights to free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Excitement has been bubbling out of the orange and black cauldron that is Flyers nation since GM Paul Holmgren sent Matt Clackson and a third round draft pick for the rights to sign the Russian net minder. This excitement came to a head as the 30 year-old Togliatti, Russia native joined the Twitterverse.
Before you knew it Ilya was tantalizing Flyers fans with his non-specific but very poignant tweets. The most intriguing being (translated from Russian)
"@bryzgoalie30: Wait for the news !! Soon, Soon"
Not to be outdone with his first tweet that sent reporters drooling over their Google translate, Ilya sent another tweet that had everyone scrambling. It was actually a reply to a fan message:
"@ChrissyTravs: I really hope to see you in a @NHLFlyers jersey soon!"
"@bryzgoalie30: @ChrissyTravs @NHLFlyers I think everything will turn!!!!"
Everything will turn? Turn out? Negotiations will turn to positive? Way to leave us hanging, Ilya. Can’t you be like Tom Sestito and come out to say deal is done? Well that would be too easy. Then what would the Philly media talk about? The draft? Do the Flyers even have any picks? But I digress
Only 3 hours later Ilya, a self-pronounced history buff, was out on the town drinking in what Philadelphia has to offer. No, not drinking it in like Carter does. Bryzgalov was busy checking out the sights. But he wasn’t too busy to let everyone know what he thought of our fair city.
"bryzgoalie30: Philadelphia is a royal looking city with unbelievable history!"
Not only was Benjamin Franklin a pretty cool cat, him and his constituents might be a key factor in luring a Bryzgalov to play in Philadelphia. History and hockey, what else could a Russian and his wife do in the city? Well it just so happens, Philly cheese steaks are just as famous in the motherland as they are here.
"bryzgoalie30: I went to Geno’s and ate legendary phillycheesesteak! If you are there be sure to ask for new item on the menu phillycheesebryz”
You don’t say. A menu item already named after him? The crew at Geno’s are either huge Ilya Bryzgalov fans, he got them drunk on Russian vodka, or he let on something that the general public can only speculate about. That the deal is done.
My gut tells me the latter is probably the case here. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out this mystery. Ilya has stated publicly he wants to be on a winning team. But beyond just a winning team, he is looking for a city with history, and a place suitable for his family. Bryzgalov seems to be getting pretty comfortable with his surroundings here in Philadelphia. If you add up all the pieces it becomes clearer.
I’m going to go out on a limb, well not too far out, and say that this is all but a done deal. The framework is in place to bring the first legitimate number one goalie in quite some time to Philadelphia. A handshake and their word will have to do for now until the deal can be announced. I wouldn’t expect anything to become public until at least next Friday at the NHL entry draft. Holmgren won’t want to tip his hand and weaken his bargaining position with prospective trade partners. Knowing the Flyers need to move players to clear salary puts them over the proverbial barrel when it comes to getting return on their investments. Who moves is still to be determined, but if (or should I say when) Bryzgalov signs, someone has to go. As soon as that happens, expect to see the deal announced that brings the Cheese steak namesake, Twitter bandit to the city of brotherly love. See you soon, Ilya.