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Ilya Bryzgalov would rather play in Russia than Winnipeg next season

Apr 21, 2011, 5:51 PM EDT

Ilya Bryzgalov Getty Images

With the Phoenix Coyotes out of the playoffs and their future as to where they’ll play in the future up in the air, there is one thing they can count on. If the team moves to Winnipeg they can count on impending unrestricted free agent goalie Ilya Bryzgalov playing for another team or league next season.

After last night’s 6-3 loss in Game 4 to Detroit, Bryzgalov was asked about his future as a free agent and the prospects of re-signing with the organization. To say he’s not a big fan of Winnipeg would be a wild and hysterical understatement.

“You don’t want to go to Winnipeg, right?” Bryzgalov said after the Coyotes lost to Detroit, Wednesday night. “Not many people live there, not many Russian people there. Plus it’s cold. There’s no excitement except the hockey. No park, no entertaining for the families, for the kids. It’s going to be tough life for your family.”

The 30-year-old Russian’s knowledge of Winnipeg comes from a visit or two when he was with Cincinnati in the AHL.

“I’ve been there for just once, maybe twice, when I play in minors. It was really cold,” Bryzgalov said. “I used the tunnels between the buildings to get to the arena. Because it was minus 40-something. Real cold.”

I know things are a bit different in Canada, but I didn’t realize it was a country without parks or entertainment. It’s either that or Winnipeg really is a frontier outpost in the middle of nowhere. I should really shut up when talking about places I’ve never been before.

It’s not the first time Bryzgalov has bagged on the bad weather in a central Canadian city, he sounded off similarly about Edmonton years ago while a member of the Ducks. Bryzgalov has been a bit spoiled in his NHL career having played in Anaheim and Phoenix, that’s some really good weather during the winter to have to call home.

Of course, with free agency coming up for him and a potentially very wealthy owner to sign his paychecks in Winnipeg (should he be open to going there) we’d like to think that David Thomson would build Bryzgalov his own climate controlled biodome should that be what it takes to lure him north of the border.

Would he even listen to an offer from the new owners? It doesn’t sound too likely.

“Probably not. I better go to somewhere in Russia, KHL, to be honest. Because KHL is Russian people, it’s family, friends. Even as a cold place, I can speak to people in Russian language.”

Ah yes, the KHL option. Bryzgalov is an interesting enough character to take seriously on such a threat to go back to Russia but it’s one that didn’t work out too well for guys like Ray Emery and Evgeni Nabokov the last couple years. The comparison to Nabokov is appropriate because he too is Russian and thought he could get paid well and be at home. That didn’t work out too well as he was allowed to leave SKA St. Petersburg to come back to North America and ultimately end up in limbo after being claimed on waivers by the Islanders.

If he wants to go back to Russia that’s more than fine and that’s his decision. Of course, there may be a warm weather team with an opening at goalie next season if things don’t work out with Phoenix. Tampa Bay has Dwayne Roloson and Mike Smith both becoming unrestricted free agents next year. Perhaps Bryzgalov would be interested in some beach front property in Florida instead of a home on the┬áprairie in Winnipeg.

  1. polegojim - Apr 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Wow – Bryz already drawing lines in the sand… er… now I guess in the snow and ice.

  2. emperor83 - Apr 21, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    I can see where he’s coming from. I’d rather play for the AHL than the Winnipeg Jets. Bring back a team WORTH bringing back, like the Hartford Whalers…

    • hemigod - Apr 22, 2011 at 6:36 AM

      Ha, THE wailers were an interesting experiment, but I can’t remember any player of importance: I got it now,Hull, Hedberg, Selanne, Hawerchuk Babych, Nillson…………………………….! Ya Know,bud, THE JETS! Moose draw more fans than most southern American NHL teams,AHL ha!

    • hemigod - Apr 22, 2011 at 6:40 AM

      PS. Can you skate ?

  3. sknut - Apr 21, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    How many Russians are in Phoenix? Its also tough to ask a guy after being elimnated where he will play next year, where ever it is he will be paid nicely.

    • chalie16 - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:08 AM

      I lived in Phoenix for 10 years and there’s actually quite a few Russians in Phoenix. When you count the total number of Russian speakers it’s increases greatly. I don’t know anything about Winnipeg and certainly would never put it down but if Bryzgalov felt that he wouldn’t be happy there, then he shouldn’t go. He’ll be a free agent so there’s not much the franchise can do.

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