There was something off about Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) in the Phoenix Coyotes' first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings. He posted a 4.36 GAA, an .879 save percentage, and looked somewhere between inept and disinterested.
Speculation has been that the Coyotes, as a team, were distracted by the never-closer relocation talk regarding the franchise and a return to Winnipeg. If that's the case, then it'd be easy to understand Bryzgalov getting caught up in that distraction. Because he doesn't want to play in Winnipeg. Like, at all.
From QMI and writer Paul Friesen, here's Bryzgalov, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer:
"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."
OK, frigid weather aside, would he re-sign with GM Don Maloney if the team relocated?
"Probably not. I better go to somewhere in Russia, KHL, to be honest. Because KHL is Russian people, it's family, friends. Even as a cold place, I can speak to people in Russian language."
Oh, Ilya; why you heff to be mad? So, in summary:
• The KHL is filled with cities that contain a suitable number of parks.
• Russian-speaking people make cold weather more tolerable.
• Winnipeg is populated by a race of mole creatures that move between facilities though an intricate system of tunnels.
• Guess we can add Winnipeg to 'first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs' on the list of places where Ilya Bryzgalov won't show up.
Not for nothing, but Bryzgalov is one of eight UFAs for the Coyotes, who also have five restricted free agents (including Keith Yandle(notes)). And there's a better chance of Jim Balsillie swooping in to keep the Coyotes in Glendale than Bryzgalov being alone in his feelings about playing in Winnipeg.