Just days after accepting his demotion to the American Hockey League, Ilya Bryzgalov has changed course.
On Thursday, the Ducks announced they’ve placed the veteran goalie on unconditional waivers, which is often the first step in terminating a player’s contract. In early December, Bryzgalov signed with Anaheim on a one-year, $2.8 million deal.
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.”