Brownie Points: Let's be thankful Coyotes dealt Bryzgalov - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brownie Points: Let's be thankful Coyotes dealt Bryzgalov

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Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. Contact him at

Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:01 pm, Sat Jun 11, 2011.

Ilya Bryzgalov is a very good goaltender. From October to April, he's one of the 10 best currently standing between pipes in the National Hockey League. There is no way the Phoenix Coyotes enjoy the two most successful seasons in franchise history or go from also-ran to a playoff team without him.

That said, Coyotes fans should wish the mercurial Russian all the best in Philadelphia, or whichever deep-pocketed, goalie-exasperated team empties the piggy bank for him this summer.

They should be happy that GM Don Maloney will take the $10 million he will save by cutting Bryzgalov and the perennially overpaid Ed Jovanovski loose to provide his coach and hard-working roster the four or five players needed to become a true contender in the West.

Bryzgalov came here for free, a gift from the waiver wire.

In three-plus seasons - with a huge assist from coach Dave Tippett's system and a team that was a lot better at not giving up goals than scoring them - he rewrote the Coyotes goaltending record book.

He raised his value around the league and wore out his welcome in the Phoenix dressing room all at once.

Bryzgalov in Philadelphia? Wow. This I gotta see.

The Flyers can win 40 games and stack up 100 points with a scarecrow in the crease. They need a goalie who will lift his game in the postseason, pour ice water into his veins in close games and overtimes, and not give up, oh, let's say a goal from behind the red line in the third period.

There is nothing in Bryzgalov's postseason resume to indicate he's simply a $60 million payday away from being that guy.

Then there is Bryzgalov off the ice:

• The guy who disappears into protected areas of the dressing room when he has a bad night, leaving his teammates to take the bullets and defend him.

More than once, heads were shaking and eyes were rolling around the room when Bryzgalov left the building after a 6-0 or 5-1 loss, took the next day off and waited for the heat to die down before resurfacing.

Good luck in Philly with that, Bryz.

• The guy who practiced when he felt like it, took a night off when it suited him (look at the teams Jason LaBarbera faced last season), and had his often strange and combative comments to the press explained away by the organization.

• The guy who seemed to be allergic to Winged Wheels. Anyone who felt the Coyotes had a decided advantage in net going into their playoff series with Detroit simply wasn't watching. The Red Wings were drooling at the prospect of playing Phoenix, and there is a reason Detroit was bounced by San Jose in the next round each of the last two years.

• The guy whose mysterious injury last December was never fully explained, and who was never the same goalie that dominated the first two months after that. There might be a very good reason why Bryz wants a long-term, guaranteed deal now when he can use the last two years to make his case.

I'm not sure what the Flyers' infatuation with Coyotes goalies is all about. Robert Esche didn't get Philly through the playoffs. They brought back Brian Boucher after trading him once, hoping that the mystic waters of Westgate had transformed him. Now they are going to back up a Brink's truck for Bryzgalov, a guy who walks and talks a lot more like Roman Cechmanek than Bernie Parent.

This is the perfect time to part ways. The Coyotes will have to stand on their own two skates in front of a goalie who may not be quite as good, but who will be one of them. With a No. 1 center, more quickness on defense and one or two more scorers who are willing to be defensively responsible under Tippett, this may turn out to be the best chance to take a step forward.


Quick hitters

• Winning a super regional in Austin is no picnic, but if the Sun Devils find their way back to Omaha this could be the year to get a 30-year gorilla off their backs and win their first NCAA title since 1981. This team played loose all season, figuring they had nothing to lose with probation looming, and it showed on the field with a very fun and successful season. And that's just the kind of mindset and attitude that works best in the pressure cooker of the CWS.

If the Devils don't win, they were never supposed to be there in the first place. If they do - how about a softball/baseball sweep to end the school year?

• I think this was one of the most important weeks of baseball in Diamondbacks history. No, not losing two of three to the Pirates. Drafting Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley could produce the foundation for the top end of the rotation for years to come. Bauer is something special and Bradley could very well be. Let's hope these guys don't go the way of John Patterson/Nick Bierbrodt/Brad Penny and instead turn out be the real deal.

• Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at


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