It hasn’t been a good week for Flyers reporters. A week ago, Chris Pronger took a stick to the face that had everyone watching thinking the same thing: “did I just see Pronger’s career end?” An hour passed by and there was no word on his status. The more time that went by, the worse that fear got. No one at home knew if he was still in the locker room or if he was taken to the hospital. Finally, news that he was still in the building and had massive swelling around his eye, preventing a clean diagnosis came. But not by anyone who gets paid to cover the Flyers specifically. Instead the news was broken by Bob McKenzie of TSN and then Mike Brophy of SportsNet, both league wide reporters in Canada. After the game, Brophy again broke the news that Pronger was resting at home and should be okay. The Flyers reporters got beaten in their own house reporting on the team they cover by the visitors. That should never happen. It is their job to get that information first, every reporter in the building that day and their superiors should be embarrassed for getting swept on this coverage. Additionally, it should tell you something about how the Flyers feel about their local media that they gave this information to guys from Canada first.
Today, the bad week only got worse.
Ilya Bryzgalov has struggled lately and has decided that he doesn’t want to talk to the media on non-game days. The Flyers say that they ordered it, but I don’t believe that for a second and neither should you. Bryzgalov doesn’t want to talk to the media and the Flyers are saying it’s their decision to protect their player, which they absolutely should do (the protection part). Predictably, and somewhat understandably, the media has reacted to this with outrage. And then while I was writing this, they reversed course. Herman Cain is envious of their ability to say one thing then say the complete opposite only hours later.
Bryzgalov isn’t completely without fault here. He certainly has the right to go all Duane Thomas on the media, as freedom of speech in this country also means you have the right not to speak. But it doesn’t mean it’s right for him to not speak. The Philadelphia media is petty, vindictive and arrogant. Now that’s a good reason to never talk to them, however hr is talking to them, so annoying them is only going to compound the issue. I hate to say it, but this recent development begs the question, if he can’t handle the media after a few bad games in October, how is he going to react in April?
The press is wrong making their hurt feelings the story of the week. The press wants you to feel bad that Bryz won’t talk to them. They will get no pity here. The most replaceable thing in sports is the sports writer, although I’m willing to concede that sports talk radio hosts are even more fungible, if that is possible. Both have the same sized undeserved ego and love to stroke it themselves. Appeasement only makes the aggressor more aggressive, Bryzgalov and his media silence have given them all the lube they could ask for. The media is always craving a story like this so they can justify their existence. Between league and team websites you get all the information you need, and for opinions there’s a plethora of idiots with a keyboard such as myself. By shunning them the press now has the story that they love to write about: writers vs. athlete. Unfortunately the media always wins. Even though newspapers are on their last legs these days, the adage “never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel” still applies. Players get run out of town, writers sadly do not. The continued employment of Tim Panaccio is evidence of that. So unfortunately for Bryz, he’s only making matters worse for his frustration levels when he does speak to the media, as this story will never really die this season. Not that affects him, but any time he has a bad game, they will take to twitter to make jokes about it, and they’ll make similar jokes when he plays great too. So get ready for even more pettiness.
If only the press understood that the fans ultimately don’t care what they think. They care about the performance of the team, the writers are just a vehicle to aide them in following the team. Ilya Bryzgalov could take a monk-like vow of silence and no one except the press will care about it if he wins. I can’t wait until Pronger is back and gets testy with them.