Bryzgalov: "Universe this big!" - Photo by John Mahoney/Montreal Gazette

Ilya Bryzgalov made a “humongous big” splash Wednesday night on HBO’s 24/7 with his trippy monologues on the universe and tigers and whatnot.

But while his broken-English meanderings make for some of the most engaging moments of a show that’s already enthralling from start to finish, I found myself wondering if the reality of it isn’t quite as charming.

I mean, when you’re being entertained in small bursts, it’s gold, Jerry, GOLD! But as Kevin Woodley, writer for and InGoal Magazine, pointed out on Twitter Wednesday night:

As a writer who’s been around a lot of NHL teams and focuses on goalies in particular, I believe Kevin when he explains in a later tweet that this is coming from coaches and teammates through the years.

Crazy people just take a lot of patience to deal with. The upside is, of course, that he’s a harmless, grinning, whimsical kind of whacko and not a poop in your opponents glove kind of whacko.

So, I’m not really trying to be a downer about Bryz here, so much as I’m thinking, “Oh my God, his poor wife!” Well, not literally poor, but as Dan Ellis taught us, money doesn’t buy happiness, and it doesn’t make up for a space cadet husband.

Can you imagine what it’s like trying to involve him in parenting issues?

Mrs. Bryz: “So, Vlad got in trouble at school today for fighting, Ilya. You need to talk to him.”

Bryz: “Vlady, Vlady, Vlady. Why you so med? Why you no juss be heppeh, smiling? Our problems teeny tineh in universe.”

Vlad: “He stuffed me in my locker and said mean things about you.”

Bryz: “So, he stuff you in locker. Locker better than Winnipeg!”

Here’s hoping they have a very sensible nanny running the ship there at Chez Bryz.

That said, his kid, also a goalie (“mini-me”) really did seem like a mini-Bryz. Proudly showing off his pads that are exactly like his dad’s (oh, to have the Vaughn rep at your beck and call). Matter of factly explaining that “everybody’s going to shoot on me” as they headed to the ice.

And if you didn’t smile a little when the awkward puck-off-the-mask save got a “Oooohhhh! What a save!” and a fist bump from proud papa, then your cold dark heart is even colder and darker than mine.

As part of my “research” for this post, I went back and read through Bryz’s Twitter feed. I remember when I first started following him, I thought there was no way this was really him.

Now? Yeah. That’s him.

On one hand, I envy his child-like wonder at, well, anything and everything it seems. From simple things like hot chocolate (with marshmallows) to the enormity of the universe.

I still occasionally have a love affair with a cup of hot chocolate, but I’m never so hell-bent on the whole experience to bother dragging the marshmallows out of the special “S’mores Supplies” bag in the back of the pantry. (I’m trusting you guys with that secret. Don’t touch my S’mores Supplies.)

And the universe? I thought about that once when I was an emo teenager and it just depressed the crap out of me so I don’t think about that any more.

If that didn’t beat it out of me, my surprisingly difficult astronomy class in college sure did. Universe = Big. Got it.

But I guess in some ways, it’s good to have a philosopher-type in the mix. Most of us regular adults who haven’t been able to become millionaires while maintaining, effectively, man-child status, don’t have the luxury of such ponderings.

Goalies, though, have lots of time to think, so they’re good candidates for that role. It’s just that they also get hit in the head a lot, so when they start telling you that there are 500 species of tiger, don’t take that at face value.

But just to be on the safe side, if you’re in China, don’t go gunning any down either.

You have to hope the producers of the show learned quickly to keep a cameraman within earshot of Bryz. Because even though I’m totally getting a “I’d be sick of you in about 3 days” vibe from him, I can’t wait to hear more about what’s going on in the amusement park that is his mind.

Comments (8)

  1. Seems like a hockey player has to remain a child at heart! So Go for it Bryz!
    Sure glad someone has the time to follow him and others on twitter on a portable computer? I gather.

  2. I see what you’re saying but I also don’t buy that that’s 100% who he is. I read an extensive interview with him a while back (wish I could remember where so I could link it) where he stressed more than once that no one but his wife really knows the real him. That she’s surprised when teammates say he’s a goofball because he’s not like that at home. I can totally see having a different side of your personality come out at the rink. I know I’m a little different in the locker room than I am in “real life” . And I’m nowhere near the humangous big star that he is. I’m not at all saying its put on, just a different side of him. Something to think about anyway.

  3. I think that kinda has to be the case. It’s just not practical to be so lalalalalala…. I dunno. Don’t have a word for what he is. Still if Kevin is right, perhaps this “side” of him doesn’t serve him all that well? Wonder if it’s sort of a coping mechanism? That’s why I’m anxious to see more.

    • Yeah that’s he first time I’ve heard that about teammates and I guess I can see it getting old. By all accounts though he’s a very intelligent guy… which I guess you’d have to be if you were just pondering the universe for fun.

  4. FWIW, I’m pretty sure he meant to say “specimens” of tigers, not “species”, which is probably true. He may be a nut, but he comes across as a smart one – his Universe comments were right on the money. You have to remember that you have a talkative, funny guy, at times struggling with English as a second language.

  5. he’s talking about the Amur Tiger, there are less than 500 left in the world. Our galaxy is but a speck on a speck when measured against the universe.

  6. I think you should write all future posts in Bryz dialect. You heff to!

  7. It seems like you’re broadcasting what could be simply a small portion of his personality onto his entire life, which really isn’t fair. For all we know he’s a completely different person when it’s just him and his family, especially considering the language and cultural differences that are present in the interactions we see.

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