Bryzgalov’s ex-Phoenix teammate says Coyotes had to ‘put him in his place’


The Edmonton Oilers host the Florida Panthers tonight at Rexall, which means a reunion of former Coyotes teammates Ilya Bryzgalov and Scottie Upshall.

It doesn’t sound like the reunion will be all that friendly, though.

On Thursday, Upshall aired criticisms of Bryzgalov from the three seasons they spent together in Phoenix, acknowledging that — while a very talented goalie — Bryzgalov wasn’t an ideal teammate.

“There were a couple of incidents where he wasn’t happy with the way our team played in front of him and he did a few things that caused us to say something to him and put him in his place,” Upshall told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “[He called us out] in not a very professional way.

“We had to take care of him because it wasn’t always about him. It was about the team.”

While Upshall said Bryzgalov was “unbelievable” in Phoenix and “a helluva goalie,” especially during his Vezina-nominated 2009-10 campaign, he suggested the Russian netminder greatly benefited from Phoenix’s defensive system and that, heading into his contract year, Bryzgalov’s main motivation wasn’t just wins and team success.

“There’s no question he probably played a little harder knowing that he was coming into free agency,” Upshall explained (Bryzgalov went on to sign a nine-year, $51 million deal with Philly). “Right now he’s in a spot where he has to prove himself again.”

As for tonight? Upshall says his time playing with and against Bryzgalov will help in figuring him out.

“He doesn’t like traffic, he doesn’t like guys in his face,” Upshall explained. “If you get under his skin he gets off his game.”

Sharks name Pavelski captain; Thornton, Couture alternates

Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton
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Joe Pavelski is the new captain of the San Jose Sharks. The club made the announcement today via Twitter.

The former captain, Joe Thornton, will be an alternate captain, along with Logan Couture.

Pavelski, 31, was the Sharks’ leading scorer last season, finishing with 37 goals and 33 assists. He’s also signed through 2018-19, so giving him the ‘C’ makes sense from a long-term stability perspective.

Couture, 26, is also signed through 2018-19, while Thornton, 36, only has two years left on his contract.

The Sharks had four alternate captains (Thornton, Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) in 2014-15, but no captain.

Related: DeBoer says Sharks will have a captain next season

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.