[Bryzgalov] just returned from a local Philadelphia rink on a Tuesday afternoon where he spent a few hours on the ice stopping pucks with his 10-year-old son, Vladislav, also a goaltender.
As he steps outside to chat – the cell reception inside of his house ‘isn’t great’ – it’s immediately clear Bryzgalov is seeking another shot at playing in the NHL.
“When I told my son I was looking to play in the NHL again, his eyes lit up,” said the 35-year-old, who is currently an unrestricted free agent. “He was so excited. Now he’s older and he understands the game more. It would be great if he could watch me play again, maybe to learn some things that can help him.”
Best known for his mammoth nine-year, $51 million deal — one the Flyers used a compliance buyout on, just two years after tabling it — Bryzgalov is pretty far removed from his banner campaigns with the Coyotes, when he emerged as one of the league’s top netminders (finishing second in Vezina voting in ’09-10).
One of the most interesting personalities of recent memory might be at the end of his playing career.
While helping young goalies at a summer camp, Ilya Bryzgalov told HC Lada of the KHL’s official website that he might decide to retire in the next month and a half.
His plan for now is to return to Philadelphia to be with his family. He doesn’t see himself signing with a KHL team, but he didn’t want to rule it out either.
In the end, we could see things play out similarly to how they did last season when he entered the campaign without a contract and wasn’t actively looking for an NHL gig, but ultimately chose to return when the Ducks approached him. Of course, it also wouldn’t be surprising if history didn’t repeat itself given that he posted a 4.19 GAA and .847 save percentage in eight contests with Anaheim. He decided to return to his family after the Ducks sent him to the minors in February.
It’s also worth noting that regardless of what he decides, he will be collecting paychecks from Philadelphia through 2027 due to his buyout in 2013.
If this proves to be the end of his career then he’ll be retiring with a 221-162-54 record, 2.58 GAA, and .912 save percentage in 465 career games with Anaheim, the Coyotes, Flyers, Edmonton Oilers, and Minnesota Wild.
The Russian’s second stint with the Ducks — he began his NHL career with the club in 2001-02 — didn’t go very well. Bryzgalov appeared in just eight games, going 1-4-1 with a .847 save percentage and 4.19 GAA.
It’s still unclear what caused this latest change of heart. Bryzgalov had spent a brief time in Norfolk already this season, appearing in two games during a conditioning stint.
UPDATE: The Ducks have issued a statement explaining the situation…
“At the beginning of the NHL season, I spent all of my time with my wife and my children,” said Bryzgalov. “I drove my son and daughter to their practices and games and enjoyed life. I had no plans to return to the NHL this season until the Ducks reached out to my agent, Ritch Winter. I agreed to return because of my respect for the Ducks organization, the quality of the team they had assembled and my long relationship with Bob Murray and the team. Given the way things have worked out, I have decided to return home to be with my wife and children, who did not move with me to Anaheim. It’s not the way I had hoped things would work out. But when you can return to a family you love, could life be any better?”
“Ilya has handled this difficult situation with class and dignity, and I fully understand and accept his decision,” said Murray.” I have great respect for what he’s accomplished in his career, and specifically what he’s done for our franchise. He made an indelible mark on our club in the 2006 and 2007 playoffs and helped us to a championship. That’s not something our organization and fans will soon forget. We wish him the best of luck in the future no matter what he decides to do.”
Ilya Bryzgalov is on his way to the American Hockey League.
The veteran netminder, who cleared waivers on Monday, informed the Ducks he would accept his assignment to AHL Norfolk, the club announced today. Bryzgalov will re-join the Admirals for the second time this season; earlier, he appeared in a pair of games on a conditioning stint, going 1-1-0 with a 2.53 GAA and .915 save percentage.
There was some thought that the 34-year-old wouldn’t report to the AHL, but heading to Norfolk makes sense for Bryzgalov. One, the Ducks are still in a state of flux with regards to their goaltending; Frederik Andersen is out injured and John Gibson, for all his promise, remains a 21-year-old rookie with just 14 games of NHL experience.
After those two, the No. 3 gig is essentially up for grabs between Bryzgalov and fellow veteran Jason LaBarbera, and it stands to reason Bryzgalov could play his way back into form with some reps at the American League level.
That said, it doesn’t sound like Ducks GM Bob Murray is overly hopeful:
Murray on Bryz: We took a chance and it didn’t work out for either one of us. Neither of us feels good about it.