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|Minnesota Wild: Ilya Bryzgalov brings lots of experience ... and quirks
6 марта 2014 года. Graff, Chad. Saint Paul Pioneer Press
Ilya Bryzgalov, standing before the Minnesota media for the first time, paused Thursday before answering a familiar question.
What, exactly, does he think of the viral sensation he's become after a selection of his blunt answers and odd monologues aired on HBO's "24/7"?
"There was something crazy in that show," Bryzgalov said.
A visit to YouTube serves up some of Bryzgalov's more interesting statements.
In one, the 33-year-old goalie contemplates the meaning of life, speaking English in his thick Russian accent.
"I'm very into the universe," he said during an interview while playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. "Like, how it was created. Like, what is it? The solar system is so humongous big, right? But if you see our solar system and the galaxy, like on the side, like it's so small you can't even see it. Our galaxy is huge, but if you see the big picture, our galaxy is, like, small tiny dot in the universe. And I think, like, we have some problems on earth we worry about compared to, like, nothing? Just be happy, don't worry. Be happy right now."
He once told the Philadelphia media, "You've got to do your job better." He admitted to being afraid of "bears in the woods." And he compared his white Siberian husky to "basically a hot girl."
He came to the Wild in a Tuesday trade to back up rookie starter Darcy Kuemper -- a real need for a team whose two veteran goalies, Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, both likely are out for the season.
With 20 games remaining in the regular season, the Wild are more interested in Bryzgalov's play on the ice than his quirks off it.
If Kuemper continues his stellar performance of the past nine weeks, Bryzgalov won't make more than five or six starts for the Wild. Kuemper will make his 16th straight start Saturday night in Dallas, and the 23-year-old who made his first NHL start just two months ago has shown no signs of slowing down.
Despite Bryzgalov's veteran status and playoff experience, Kuemper is clearly the Wild's No. 1 guy in the nets.
"We're really comfortable with Darcy," general manager Chuck Fletcher said after giving up a fourth-round draft pick for Bryzgalov. "And we're comfortable with Ilya, too. We have two goaltenders. Starting Saturday, we have 20 games in 37 days. It's not possible for one goalie to play all of them, so they're both going to have to win games, they're both going to have to play."
Bryzgalov's first start for the Wild likely will come Sunday against St. Louis at the Xcel Energy Center.
Bryzgalov has played seven full seasons in the NHL, but he probably is better known among fans for his unique answers in interviews than anything he's done between the pipes. But that wasn't -- and isn't -- a concern for the Wild.
"Ilya is a good guy," Fletcher said. "He's colorful and certainly is known to have a few good sound bites every now and again."
He signed a nine-year, $51 million contract in Philadelphia three years ago, but the Flyers bought out his contract after 109 games over two tumultuous seasons and sent him on his way after the 2012-13 season.
He struggled to earn an NHL contract this season until Edmonton signed him in November. He posted a .908 save percentage and a 3.01 goals-against average in 20 games behind the Oilers' poor defense.
The Wild viewed him as a bargain. He was a cheaper option than several other goalies they considered trading for. And in the final year of his contract, he provides roster flexibility this summer.
Of course, Bryzgalov is more than just a bargain. He's a character.
"You see interviews on TV and obviously '24/7' was kind of an eye-opener for everybody ... for a lot of players, actually," Wild goalie coach Bob Mason said. "He's in a new environment now with new teammates and new friends."
"I know a few guys that have actually played with him, and they all say he's a real nice guy," Kuemper said. "He's treated me really well so far."