When I once asked a defenseman about a goalie who did yoga as part of his training routine, the defenseman shook his head and smirked, then said under his breath, “Goalies are weird, man.”
That’s the stereotype in hockey, right? I mean, you have to have a certain sense of bravery – and insanity – to want to stop a projectile coming at you at speeds about as fast as a slow NASCAR driver. And some of the more notable goalies had their own, ah, habits.
Patrick Roy talked to his goalposts. Ed Belfour became extremely belligerent if anyone touched his equipment. Pelle Lindbergh drank beer between periods.
As evidenced on this season’s first two episodes of HBO’s “24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic” – a four-part miniseries that chronicles two NHL teams in the weeks before the Winter Classic – Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has a glaring idiosyncracy.
He has no filter.
And it’s a good thing.
Rarely do we see candor from athletes anymore. When they’re surrounded by microphones, digital recorders, television cameras and iPhones tethered to webcasts, there’s a certain guardedness to professional athletes. Or celebrities. They don’t want to say or do the wrong thing, for fear of being scrutinized and/or harpooned via the mainstream media, TMZ, Twitter and basement bloggers.
Yet when the HBO cameras are in the general vicinity, it’s different. “24/7” has provided a certain unique window into the lives of NHL players for these past two Decembers – from Max Talbot’s hankering for pretty elves to Bruce Boudreau’s love of Haagen-Dazs.
For two Wednesdays, we’ve been entertained by “The Wisdom of Bryz.” Last week, Bryzgalov entertained us by explaining what happens in China if you slaughter a tiger and how Philadelphia fans allegedly hated goalies. Oh, and his interpretation of where we stand in the universe:
This week, Bryzgalov discussed in detail his Siberian Husky.
In post-game interviews posted on YouTube, Bryzgalov is composed, a little stiff, yet articulate. He has his moments of clarity, and of falling in line on the record.
Yet from his days with the Ducks, Bryzgalov had it in him. And we are all better for Bryzgalov’s wisdom.
Could Bryzgalov’s wisdom just be something lost in translation? Or is this the goalie’s proverbial 15 minutes?
Better yet, is this how Bryzgalov inadvertently breaks through in another effort to help the NHL continue to appeal to the mainstream? (Secretly, the higher-ups at 1251 Avenue of the Americas ARE LOVING THIS.)
You know goalies. They’re weird sometimes. And that’s not a bad thing.