The summer of 2014 went by without Ilya Bryzgalov securing an NHL contract. The team he finished the 2013-14 campaign with, the Minnesota Wild, gave him the opportunity to participate in training camp on a tryout basis, but he ultimately didn’t make the squad.
His career seemed to be in jeopardy despite his largely solid season, but Bryzgalov wasn’t worried. Already financially set following the Philadelphia Flyers’ decision to buy him out, he would have been content to call it a career.
“I was enjoying my life, to be honest,” he said, per Canada.com. “I was not worried about hockey at that time. If something came up good, I would look at it … if it was not, I was in a great position too. I had a great career if nothing came up.
“I read lots of articles about myself in the newspapers like some journalists (said) maybe he felt bad, he got to come back. No, it was like I felt great. I was enjoying my life.”
Eventually Anaheim took an interest in him though after goaltender John Gibson suffered a groin injury and Bryzgalov liked the idea of returning to the team that drafted him in 2000. Bryzgalov has only played in three games with the Ducks since signing on Dec. 9, but that hasn’t dampened his spirits.
“I have like lots of connections with California,” he said. “Me and my wife were married here, my son was born here, we built the first house here, we won the Cup here.”
He’s happy to get another chance to win it all with Anaheim. On the rare occasions that they need him, he’ll go out and try to secure a victory.
“That’s all I can do,” he said. “The rest of the stuff I don’t worry about.”
It’s a long way from where he was just a couple years ago when he said he endured a season he “wouldn’t wish to an enemy.”