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Edmonton Oilers GM heard Ilya Bryzgalov is a ‘terrible’ person

Nov 19, 2013, 2:32 PM EDT


Ilya Bryzgalov is back in the NHL after a brief conditioning stint with the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate. It’s somewhat surprising it happened so fast. Little more than a month ago, Bryz was being courted by an ECHL franchise.

Then again, I suppose Edmonton isn’t much better. The Oilers have a 5-15-2 record this season, good for the second-lowest point total in the league. And in the stacked Western Conference, it will be difficult to make up that ground.

Oilers GM and former Philadelphia Flyer Craig MacTavish is excited about the addition nonetheless, and according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, “The goalie battle is now officially on in Edmonton.” Good luck with that.

MacTavish must’ve heard about the killer party Philly threw when the organization bought out Bryz’s contract, because he admitted there was some trepidation before signing. The Oilers GM took some time to inquire about the cosmonaut’s reputation before putting ink to paper, and not surprisingly the responses were all over the spectrum.

“We did homework in terms of the character,” said MacTavish. “You hear both ends of the spectrum. You heard people say, ‘He’s a good guy, he’s not a problem, he’s going to be very easy to work with.’ Then you also heard, ‘He’s a terrible guy.’ I’ve never seen this varied an opinion on a guy. Normally people focus in on the same conclusion. But this was quite different.”

“Everybody likes an underdog story, and he can quickly get into that position here,” said MacTavish. “He’s a colorful character. If he plays well, he’s got a chance to really resurrect his image and his game. There’s a lot on the line. It probably won’t be seamless, but he’s got a chance.

I don’t know about you, but I’d put more weight in “terrible person” than “good guy.” It just seems more honest.

Or you could simply go by the fact that Bryzgalov’s previous employer paid $23 million to be rid of him.

MacTavish was quick to point out that signing Bryz didn’t cost his team much, and with his club’s season already circling the drain, he probably figured they had nothing to lose.

For what it’s worth, Bryz didn’t have much to say about his two-year stint with Philadelphia when he met the Edmonton press corps. Then again, the Flyers are paying him $23 million over the next 14 years to play hockey wherever he wants, so Bryz probably feels very content right now.

>> Oilers’ goalie competition heating up [ESPN]

  1. Stan - Nov 19, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Just because someone is opinionated/vocal as he was, you can’t make that assessment.
    Flyers got rid of him, but did it solve any problems?

    • Capt. Obvious - Nov 19, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      Yes, yes it did solve problems. Steve Mason has been great this year (.931 save % and 2.13 GAA), which is a hell of a lot better than Bryz. If the Flyers turn this around and get into the playoffs, you can bet that Steve Mason has been and will be a huge reason why.

      • Stan - Nov 19, 2013 at 4:08 PM

        I see and respect what you are saying, but last year 19 games in they were 8–10–1 with 17 points, today they are 7-10-2 with 16 points, not much of a difference. It would be great if they can turn their season around.

      • Scott B - Nov 19, 2013 at 4:24 PM

        Agreed with Capt.

        Mason have been the least of our worries this year. Guy is more athletic than any goalie (sans Bob) we’ve had in 10 years, doesn’t talk, just plays, and is still young enough to be our goalie for the next 10 years. Granted, the season is a quarter deep but couldn’t be more excited about what we have in net right now. You knew everyone from Sean Burke to Roman to Leighton to Bryz would never steal a cup, I can legit see Mason doing it. Now only if the team can

        Enjoy Bryzgalov, Edmonton.

      • lordhelmet23 - Nov 19, 2013 at 4:40 PM

        @Stan Instead of comparing team records why not compare their Save% and GAA through 20 games? Wait I know why, because your argument completely falls apart when you do that.

      • BenE. - Nov 19, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        Stan, without looking it up, I’m going to bet the house that the Flyers were scoring more than 1.8 goals per game at this point last season.

  2. erzug - Nov 19, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Whatever has happened up to this point, the goaltending cannot be blamed. I haven’t yet seen either Mason or Emery duck their heads for a high shot and allow it to then go into the net. If Mason continues to play well for the entire season, he’ll most likely be the most underpaid starting goalie in the league. And since he’s only here on a one year deal for $1.5M, I’ve no doubt he will test the free agent market next spring. It would be a shame to lose him, but que sera, sera. Not sure how much money would be in the coffers considering they’re still paying Bryzgalov $1.63M a year over the next 14 years.

  3. stan - Nov 19, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    @lordhelmet23 true, but can you win the cup strictly with goalie stats?

    • Scott B - Nov 19, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      @stan – If your goalie boasted a 0.00 GAA and 1.00 SV%, I’d say yes, you can win strictly on goalie stats.

      You’re honestly trying to say this team is no better off than last year without Bryz or you just trolling, brah.

      • Stan - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:43 PM

        Scott – that is a big “if”.

        The record and standings at the end of the year will show if this team is better or not.

        You can also say this team is better off without Lavy, since they won more games, right?

    • Chutley - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      Stan must be working for Homer’s P.R. team with this point of view…cmon dude

  4. 2sentz - Nov 19, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Say that slowly. Flyers are paying $1.6mil every year for the next 14 years, for nothing. My toddler will be in college (or jail), and Bryz will still be getting $1.6mil a year.

    Think of all the cool shit that could have bought. Somebody in FO needs to get fired for that alone.

  5. Simmonds17 - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    I’ve never met Bryz so I don’t know if he’s a terrible person. Based on his two years with the Flyers, I do not think he is a terrible person, but I think he was drastically overrated as a goalie. Thank God for the buyouts.

    If I were a hockey GM, I’d take the “terrible person” comments with a grain of salt. But I’d view Bryz as unreliable, which is why he’s only getting to be the backup to the statistically worst starting goalie in the league on a team already buried in the standings. Maybe Bryz makes it back at least part way – but I’m betting against him.

  6. Justin - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    I will just never understand how an organization with ties to the Coyotes didn’t do their due diligence on this guy before coughing up all the dough. It made no sense then and it continues to make no sense now. What did Tocchet have to say or didn’t they ask him? As soon as he was gone the player comments came out and most of us prepared for what was to come, we just didn’t think it would be as spectacular of a failure as it was.

    Just think where we might be had the GM traded for one of the “backups” on LA or Vancouver instead of signing Bryz…


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