MONTREAL – Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov’s musings about Earth’s place in the universe was all the buzz around the Philadelphia Flyers the day after the airing of the first segment of HBO’s 24/7 show.
Veteran Daniel Briere said he has yet to see the show, but he couldn’t help but hear about Bryzgalov, clearly one of the team’s off-beat characters.
“I did hear whispers about that, and that’s why I can’t wait to see it,” Briere said Thursday before the Flyers took on the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Bryzgalov was not available for interviews before the game.
The HBO specialty channel has camera crews following the Flyers and the New York Rangers in the weeks leading up the annual NHL Winter Classic.
As with the shows done a year ago with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, it was remarkable for the behind the scenes access the filmakers had in capturing sometimes expletive-laced interactions among players and coaches the dressing room, at team meetings and away from the rink.
The first episode that aired Wednesday showed Bryzgalov to be a quirky character indeed, as the Russian goaltender spoke about his fascination with the stars.
He said “the solar system is so humungous big” and yet is only a tiny sliver of the universe, so people should keep their problems in perspective and “don’t worry, be happy.”
He later is shown a brandy bottle and talks about how the tiger pictured on the label is from such a rare species that in China, poaching the animal brings the death penalty.
Another highlight had Rangers captain Ryan Callahan talking to his 95-year-old grandmother after a game.
HBO was not available at the team’s hotel, although some Flyers found a restaurant that had it on. And clips from the show were quickly put on to YouTube.
Even the networks that pay millions to air NHL games don’t get the kind of access HBO has for it’s 24/7 shows, which last year drew more than two million viewers. The NHL sees it as a unique way to showcase it’s players and teams, despite the odd F-bomb.
Briere said the team has become accustomed to having cameras follow their every move.
“The first couple of days it was a little awkward,” he sad. “We didn’t know exactly what to think of it and how to act and stuff like that.
“But now they’re part of the team. They’ve been around everywhere we go. You don’t really think about it. They do their job and we just act the way we normally do. They’re all great guys too.”
One insider tidbit revealed was the Flyers’ victory song, Knock Knock by Mac Miller, a rapper who is from Pittsburgh. They play it in the dressing room after a win, and some players even make a knocking motion with their hands as the song blares.
“At the beginning of the year we had a couple of different ones,” said forward Scott Hartnell. “As soon as the Mac Miller one came along, we won more than we lost.
“It’s a fun song to jam to, so that’s our little thing.”
Hartnell also said he hadn’t seen the show, but he got some text messages about Bryzgalov, who the Flyers signed to a nine-year US$51 million contract last summer.