Snider was force behind Flyers chasing goalie Bryzgalov

Posted: June 22, 2011

LAS VEGAS - If there were ever any doubt about who controls the Philadelphia Flyers, Ed Snider put that to rest yesterday.

The Flyers' chairman and founder, now 78, is no omnipresent figurehead. He is still the one pulling the strings.

Snider made it clear that he is the one who wants Ilya Bryzgalov in a Flyers uniform next season, setting in motion a directive at the end of last season that put general manager Paul Holmgren on a mission.

The Flyers acquired Bryzgalov's rights on June 7.

"It had to be done," Snider told the Daily News, just after arriving here for tonight's NHL Awards show at The Palms Casino and Resort. "I was part of making it happen. It was hard to sit there and watch the Stanley Cup final, knowing what [Tim] Thomas was doing for Boston."

After Thomas and the Bruins hoisted the Cup last week - and spent $156,679 at the Foxwoods Casino bar partying last weekend - Snider said he was tired of hearing about how people say that it's possible to win without spending money on a goaltender.

Since the NHL's salary cap was imposed in 2005, the Flyers have consistently been at the bottom of the league average in goaltending spending. With Bryzgalov under contract, reportedly in the $5-6 million range per season for up to 5 years, the Flyers would instantly rocket into the top third of the league.

And Snider is the man behind the organization's change in philosophy.

"By and large, you could not spend as much on forwards or defensemen and still win," Snider said. "It can be a crap shoot no matter who you bring in. But I'm hopeful that this is the guy that can make it happen. For me, the goaltender is the final piece on this team."

Snider personally met with Bryzgalov last week, even sending his private jet to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport to ferry him to South Philly after a long flight from Moscow.

"I was very impressed with him," Snider said. "He was intelligent, fun to be around. It really was a nice meeting."

Bryzgalov returned to Russia, after touring the city and team facilities with his wife Yevgeniya, without a new contract. The Flyers resumed negotiations with Bryzgalov's agent, Ritch Winter, yesterday. Their exclusive negotiating rights with the former backbone of the Phoenix Coyotes expires on July 1.

Technically, the Flyers cannot sign Bryzgalov to a new deal until the league announces the salary cap structure for next season, which Holmgren said usually happens before the start of the Entry Draft, without first moving salary. Round 1 of the draft kicks off Friday in St. Paul, Minn.

Reports on Monday indicated that the 2011-12 salary cap will increase by $4.6 million from $59.4 million to $64 million. Until that number is officially announced, teams cannot exceed this year's salary cap number in next year's commitments.

It doesn't take a calculus course to know that if the Flyers do sign Bryzgalov to a number anywhere close to his reported asking price, they will need to move a high-priced player or two to remain cap compliant.

While Snider wouldn't comment on specifics - including rumors that have surfaced about trade talks including Jeff Carter - he did echo one of Holmgren's sentiments about soon-to-be unrestricted free agent and possible cap casualty Ville Leino.

Someone will have to go.

"I think Ville played very well for us," Snider said. "I'm really hoping that we can find a way to keep him, because I think he was an important asset for us."

Leino, back in his native Finland, could not be reached for comment yesterday. All 29 other teams can begin to pursue him on July 1.

But none of that matters without first signing Bryzgalov. Snider doesn't seem worried, no matter the price.

"I'm confident that we'll be able to work something out," Snider said. "Look, if you don't spend the money, you ain't going to get him. It's really that simple."

Slap shots

The New York Times reported that the Flyers will face the Rangers in the 2012 Winter Classic on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park. . . . Soon-to-be Flyers unrestricted free agent defenseman Danny Syvret was at the Palms yesterday to support his buddy and Hart Trophy finalist Corey Perry. Syvret said he has not heard anything - and has not spoken to his agent - regarding reports that he has garnered serious interest in Europe.

ON ICE

NHL AWARDS

When: Tonight, 7 o'clock

Where: Palms Casino and Resort, Las Vegas

TV: Versus, NHL Network

Host: Jay Mohr

FINALISTS:

HART TROPHY: Most valuable player

Corey Perry (ANA)

Daniel Sedin (VAN)

Martin St. Louis (TB)

Seravalli's pick: Perry

VEZINA TROPHY: Top goaltender

Tim Thomas (BOS)

Roberto Luongo (VAN)

Pekka Rinne (NSH)

Seravalli's pick: Thomas

CALDER TROPHY: Rookie of the year

Michael Graber (NYI)

Logan Couture (SJ)

Jeff Skinner (CAR)

Seravalli's pick: Skinner

NORRIS TROPHY: Top defenseman

Zdeno Chara (BOS)

Nicklas Lidstrom (DET)

Shea Weber (NSH)

Seravalli's pick: Chara

MASTERTON TROPHY: Perseverance, dedication to sport

Ian Laperriere (PHI)

Ray Emery (ANA)

Daymond Langkow (CGY)

Seravalli's pick: Laperriere

LADY BYNG TROPHY: Sportsmanship, gentlemanly play

Loui Eriksson (DAL)

Nicklas Lidstrom (DET)

Martin St. Louis (TB)

Seravalli's pick: St. Louis

SELKE TROPHY: Top defensive forward

Pavel Datsyuk (DET)

Ryan Kesler (VAN)

Jonathan Toews (CHI)

Seravalli's pick: Toews

LINDSAY AWARD: MVP as voted by players

Corey Perry (ANA)

Daniel Sedin (VAN)

Steven Stamkos (TB)

Seravalli's pick: Stamkos

ADAMS AWARD: Coach of the year

Dan Bylsma (PIT)

Barry Trotz (NSH)

Alain Vigneault (VAN)

Seravalli's pick: Trotz

Already decided: Conn Smythe (playoff MVP): Tim Thomas (BOS); Art Ross Trophy (points leader): Daniel Sedin (VAN); Rocket Richard Trophy (top goalscorer): Corey Perry (ANA); Plus/Minus Award (best plus/minus ratio): Zdeno Chara (BOS); Jennings Trophy (tandem with best goals against average): Roberto Luongo, Corey Schneider (VAN)

--

NHL Draft

Round 1: Friday, 7 o'clock ET

Rounds 2-7: Saturday, 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.

TV: Versus, NHL Network

Flyers picks: 3rd round (84th overall), 4th (116th), 4th (118th from Tampa Bay), 6th (176th), 7th (206th).

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