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|Bryzgalov out to prove he's 'good enough'
19 ноября 2013 года. Matheson, Jim. The Vancouver Sun
During the HBO 24/7 television series detailing the lead-up to the Winter Classic two seasons ago, then-Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov expounded on the solar system, which produced a galaxy of laughs. But in his new National Hockey League chapter in Edmonton, nobody's expecting the netminder to be out-ofthis-world stopping pucks. All he has to do is join Devan Dubnyk to forge a strong Edmonton Oilers tag-team.
Bryzgalov, who scored a $1-million signing bonus and will be making another $750,000 in salary, took to the Rexall Place ice for his first practice with his new club Monday morning.
When he gets in the net will be up to Dubnyk, the coaches and Bryzgalov. He will certainly not play against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night at Rexall Place because Dubnyk has stopped 90 of his last 96 shots, and coach Dallas Eakins is like most coaches: He wants to stick with a hot goalie. When asked if this was a "second chance" after being bought out in Philadelphia - $23 million spread out over 14 years, which is a very nice annuity - Bryzgalov went the contrarian route.
"What do you mean?" he said. "The way things ended up in Philadelphia?" he was asked.
"I never lost my first chance, you know," he said.
When asked if it was difficult to be paid not to play hockey, he shrugged.
"Not at all," he said. "It was out of my control. They decided to buy me out. What can I do? "It didn't make me angry.
Why?" Bryzgalov does want to prove he still has the goods.
He's only 33, young for goalies. Martin Brodeur is getting shutouts at 41 with the New Jersey Devils.
"Doesn't matter what sport it is - hockey, football, baseball - you want to prove you're good enough," he said. "If you don't want to do that or you are tired, then you should retire and let the young guys play."
Were they any dark days where he doubted himself? "No, not at all."
He always has had a quirky take on life outside of the 200-foot-by-85-foot hockey theatre. On game days, he doesn't want to talk about hockey. But if you have questions about, say, Toronto mayor Rob Ford, he's probably your man. He doesn't plan on changing who he is, although he seems more careful with his answers.
Does he feel he has to change anything off the ice? "What do you mean. The way I go to restaurants?" he said.
"You have to be yourself. You can judge me at the end of the season ... not from people from the side who might be bringing personal feelings. You can tell me after the season, guys, what you think."
Was he misunderstood in Philly when he and the current Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who won last year's Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie, were 1-2 on the Flyers' goaltending depth chart? "I want to leave things in the past, I don't want to touch them," he said.
The two were competitive, and Bobrovsky was reportedly not happy last spring when Bryzgalov got the nod to mind the Russian net for the world championship.
But,again,that was yesterday.
Now, this might be his last kick at the NHL cat. He played two AHL games with the Oklahoma City Barons, the Oilers' farm club on the weekend - one a sloppy 5-4 loss, the other a much sharper 4-1 win.
He won't be rushed into a start with the Oilers, not with Dubnyk on top of his game, but with the Florida Panthers here on Thursday, Bryzgalov starting against them still seems a possibility because the Oilers won't play again until Monday against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
"To be honest the first game was a little bit clumsy. I didn't feel comfortable. Lots of players skating in front of me, but the second game I felt much better."
"I am just glad to be back in the NHL, to get this opportunity with the Edmonton organization. We all know the great heritage here. Great players like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish. It's a Canadian city where people care about hockey." And they dress warmly. This isn't the desert or Southern California or even Philly, where they don't see much white stuff.
"Nice and bright," he said, bemusedly.