Ilya Bryzgalov of the Philadelphia Flyers is, perhaps, our greatest goaltending philosopher currently manning the crease in the NHL. It's interview gold whenever he speaks, to the point where the Flyers attempted to control his irreverent whimsy.
Look no further than his comments last season, when the then-Phoenix Coyotes goalie explained why he wouldn't want to relocate to Winnipeg (keep in mind this was before the Atlanta Thrashers were fast-tracked to the 'Peg):
"You don't want to go to Winnipeg, right?" Bryzgalov said after the Coyotes lost to Detroit, Wednesday night. "Not many people live there, not many Russian people there. Plus it's cold. There's no excitement except the hockey. No park, no entertaining for the families, for the kids. It's going to be tough life for your family."
The 30-year-old Russian's knowledge of Winnipeg comes from a visit or two when he was with Cincinnati in the AHL. "I've been there for just once, maybe twice, when I play in minors. It was really cold," Bryzgalov said. "I used the tunnels between the buildings to get to the arena. Because it was minus 40-something. Real cold."
Bryzgalov and the Flyers are in Winnipeg for the first time since 1996, playing an afternoon affair on Saturday. Naturally, Bryz had to address his comments, and did so with a "let's get one thing straight" speech to the media … although we're not sure if Winnipeg Jets are going to be all that forgiving.
UPDATE: The Flyers announced that Sergei Bobrovsky will start this afternoon against the Jets.
(Video via the Winnipeg Free Press.)
Said Bryzgalov (and allow us a little accent exaggeration here):
"You know, let's make this straight once and for and all. We was losing, I was disappointed, first of all. And second of all, I didn't want to move anywhere like... I'm pretty sure good people, beautiful people, living in Vinny-peg. I'm pretty sure there is passionate fans. I didn't mean it. I don't want to offend somebody. Sincerely, I apologize if I offend somebody and fans in Canada and Vinny-peg. I didn't mean it, to be honest. They just asked my opinion, about … just for the city-life. For the living. I apologize if I offend someone."
OK … but what about the parks?
Alright, done and done, apology accepted and we all move on, right?
Not so much. Winnipeg Jets fans have a short list of enemies since their rebirth, and having Bryzgalov as a target of their hockey ire — and civic pride — is too good to pass up.
"He won't be able to quiet the 15,004 park loving Winnipeggers on Saturday afternoon. Regardless of what happens you can expect the Bryz-galov chants to be occurring all game long."
And then there's Ilya Bryzgalov. Instead of "shutting the door" he played very badly and suffered the loss in the effort. I'm sure all Winnipeg fans remember comments he made about how crappy the city is and how we don't have enough parks or people who speak Russian. He managed to become the first member of the NO FLY LIST when he was in Phoenix back in the spring of 2011.
We haven't forgotten Ilya. Apology not accepted.
And this post from"Puckschmuck" of the HF Boards is fairly representative of the sentiments over there about Bryzgalov:
"Meh, I can forgive. But this comes WAAAAAYY too late. And quite frankly, given he said this in Winnipeg the night before the game, I don't believe he means it. Like others have said, he's just doing it to save face. Sooooo, he is forgiven but will still get the chant treatment from me in front of my tv.
Wow. Sounds like Bryzgalov might still get the gears today. Even after apologizing.
Hey Vinny-peg: Why you heff to be mad? It's just hockey.