The plan was for Ilya Bryzgalov to have a lengthy NHL career. That’s surely what he assumed would happen when he signed a nine-year, $51 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2011.
Of course, his time in Philadelphia was rocky — and that’s putting it politely. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren called him a “costly mistake” and bought him out just two years into the deal.
He went unsigned over the summer and had to wait until November before one of the worst teams in the league, the Edmonton Oilers, were willing to take a chance on him. He was later traded to the Minnesota Wild.
He hasn’t exactly made the Flyers regret giving up on him, but he has been solid enough this season with a 2.66 GAA and .911 save percentage in 29 games and has been particularly good in Minnesota.
All the same, when the question of his impending status as an unrestricted free agent came up, the 33-year-old goaltender wasn’t even ready to commit to extending his career.
“It doesn’t mean anything because I’m not sure I want to play next year,” Bryzgalov told the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff. “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
Bryzgalov admitted that thoughts of retirement are relatively new for him, although he added that he hasn’t lost his love of the game.
By buying Bryzgalov out, Philadelphia has committed to giving him roughly $1.6 million annually through 2026-27, so he’s going to get paid for years to come regardless of whether or not he plays. That being said, after his work this season, he’s likely to attract some interest over the summer.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.