With a second consecutive playoff ousting at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings behind them, Ilya Bryzgalov was more than willing to place a large share of the blame upon his own shoulders. Bryzgalov entered the playoffs on the heels of his second consecutive Vezina-calibre regular season, and with unrestricted free agency on the horizon many expected the Russian goaltender to turn in an elite post-season performance, thus securing a huge payday this summer. Alas, the Coyotes flopped in the playoffs and Bryzgalov’s underwhelming play has many questioning his perceived value on the open market.
Bryzgalov faced a barrage of questions in the minutes following the Coyotes playoff exodus, but none elicited a response quite like the probing he faced over the possibility of playing in Winnipeg next season. The Coyotes future is shrouded in uncertainty, that much we know, but there’s zero guarantee that the franchise will be transplanted back to the great white north and its UFA-to be goaltender had to field questions about it anyway.
Bryzgalov via Paul Friesen, QMI Agency:
“You don’t want to go to Winnipeg, right? 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.”
“I’ve been there for just once, maybe twice, when I play[ed] in minors. It was really cold. I used the tunnels between the buildings to get to the arena. Because it was minus 40-something. Real cold.”
Bryzgalov didn’t stop there either, he would go as far to say that he’d prefer to play in Russia and probably wouldn’t listen to contract offers from ownership if the team lands in Winnipeg:
“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.”
The self-proclaimed “goat” may have just been sounding off out of frustration, which is completely understandable. Although, none of this should be a surprise to anyone that’s tracked Bryzgalov and his feelings on northern Canadian climate over the years: