The Flyers attempted to enact a new media policy which would limit access to goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, whose highly self critical rant following the Flyers recent 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets sparked commentary from just about every segment of the hockey media world.
The policy originally would have Bryzgalov available after games, only. Then it was later amended to limiting his availability on game days and the day before games. Several members of the local media immediately shredded the policy. The Philadelphia Daily News' Frank Seravalli tweeted that the team seemed to be blaming Bryzgalov's up and down play on the media. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi and the Camden Courier Post's Randy Miller tried to be humorous about the policy, but managed to convey their distaste for it. CSN PHilly's Tim Panaccio joined the general criticism, and all were pretty vocal about how it would affect the difficulty of their jobs.
The Flyers policy was heavy handed and honestly quite stupid. By attempting to set forth a policy that would limit the media, they had to have an idea that it would create a tempest in a teapot. Several members of the Philadelphia media have had contentious relationships with past Flyers, and were not shy about talking and writing about players who they didn't get along with.
The Flyers certainly know this, and yet put forth the policy. The Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association decided to file an official complaint, and the Brygalov media policy was withdrawn.
Now that the policy is dead, what will the impact be? Will Bryzgalov simply issue no comments? Will he decide to discard English while speaking with the media, except after games?
While it was a team policy, it was stated that Bryzgalov was active in the implementation. Bryzgalov's media session following the Flyers win against Carolina on Saturday, showed signs that the goalie was being more considered in his comments, after being highly self critical and saying he had zero confidence following the Winnipeg game.
My problem is how several members of the media handled the policy. I understand that a guy like Bryzgalov, or Chris Pronger or Max Talbot is a reporter's dream. They're open, opinionated and have good senses of humor. Bryzgalov and Pronger, especially, can easily fill notebooks and give a writer an easy time of turning in an entertaining column.
However, as hockey fans, we follow these reporters to get information about the hockey team. One of the beat writers mentioned that by shutting out the media, the Flyers were also shutting out the fans. While that is true, that sort of view should not be made to be the gist of the story.
I don't care how hard it is for a writer to do his job. I simply want coverage of the team and how they are playing. I don't care about their off ice lives, unless it's affecting their on ice play or the general team dynamic. I stress that it was NOT the entire Flyers media that complained in their daily columns or blogs. In fact quite a few credentialed bloggers made it clear that while they disagreed with the limitations on access that it was WHY the policy was adopted rather than how it affected the media that was the important part of the story.
I'm not suggesting that the media "know their place", but rather that some of the media avoid reporting in a TMZ style that creates drama, and concentrate on the games and the results on the ice.
...and who knows, maybe the Flyers figured the easiest way to get the media off of Bryzgalov's back was to make the media get pissed at them for limiting access.