GYANTSE COUNTY, TIBET (AP) _ Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov will join a Tibetan monastery after the season, citing exhaustion and a need for enlightenment after a very difficult year on the ice.
Bryzgalov will enter the Ralung Monastery on Sunday, one day after the Flyers' final game of the season against Ottawa. The eccentric goalie has visited the 830 year-old monastery and says it will be the perfect place for him to relax and transcend all of time and space.
"It's paradise here," Bryzgalov said after meditating Wednesday with his personal guru. "Here, no one is mad. In Philadelphia, everyone mad at everyone. Here, everyone happy. No mad. Happy."
Bryzgalov signed a 9-year $51 million contract with the Flyers in 2011 and has had a rocky time in Philadelphia. Inconsistent play combined with an off-beat and often controversial personality has made him a lightning rod for media and fans. The Russian has been blamed by some for the Flyers' dreadful current season, one in which they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Bryzgalov's contract could be bought out by the team this summer.
But Bryzgalov feels that studying and meditating according to the Kagyu, or Whispered Transmission, school will help him achieve the total consciousness and settled mind that has eluded him since signing his massive deal. His guru, Gedal P'yrt, will be the one to lead and instruct him, as per Kagyu doctrine, which emphasizes the master-disciple relationship.
"My guru is like goalie coach," he said. "Instead of skating and blocking, I learn single pointedness of mind and about Six Yogas, which I think may be bears. I'm not sure. I just started. I hope they not bears."
Bryzgalov has had an often combative relationship with the Philadelphia media, whom he chastised earlier this month after a report surfaced of him falling asleep in a team meeting. Although he purports to be happy in his visits to the monastery, there are already signs of Bryzgalov clashing with the devout Red Hat sect of Buddhism.
"I no wear red hat, I wear Flyers hat," Bryzgalov said, perhaps not understanding the significance of a Tibetan monk's formal headwear. "My Flyers hat is very comfortable. Like robe they give me. It's silky like blouse."
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren did not say how the team would address their goaltending situation should Bryzgalov remain at the monastery into next season. The team signed Steve Mason to a one-year extension after acquiring him from Columbus and carefully vetting his own religious practices, and prodigal Flyers goalie Brian Boucher is expected to be encased in carbon freeze throughout the off-season in case they need him next year.
Officials at the Ralung Monastery said that a traditional entry-level retreat starts at three years, but that Bryzgalov could be bought out after two for 75 percent of the transcendence over twice the length of eternity.
This is a parody. So we got that going for us. Which is nice.