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Of Course Someone Had to Ask Ilya Bryzgalov His Thoughts on Stalin

May 15, 2013, 10:36 AM EDT

source:  Couldn’t they have just asked him about space? Or bears even? Maybe ask him to go into greater detail as to why he likes “new” cities like Boston (???) as opposed to “old” cities like Philadelphia? No. The Russian interviewer had to ask Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to explain his thoughts on Joseph Stalin. This should go over well.

The original interview was done by Russian language site Championat, which you can read a sketchy Google Translate version of here.

Dmitry Chesnokov, who often translates for Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy, more accurately translated the sure-to-be controversial quotes on Stalin.

All journalists try to interview you. And is there a person who you would like to talk to?

“A lot of them are not alive anymore… I would love to talk to Genghis Khan, Stalin, Einstein.”

Stalin is a very controversial figure. How do you feel about him?

“Positive. I see logic in his action. Not without going too far, of course. But he came to power in a country that had just lived through a revolution. There were so many spies, enemies, traitors there. A lot of people still had guns after the civil war. The country was in ruins, [people] needed to survive somehow. The country needed to be rebuilt, and in order to do that it needed to be held in iron hands. Then WWII began. A lot of people came back from that war with guns as well. There was devastation all around, the country had to be rebuilt, had to be able to defend itself. There were so many criminals.”

Stalin took Russia in with a wooden plow and left it with nuclear weapons.

“Yes, he knew what he was doing. He is described as a ‘bloody tyrant.’ But at the time it couldn’t be any other way. Yes, there were innocent people who were victims of repressions… But it happens. Not long ago in the US a person was released from prison, who spent 45 years there. It turned out he was innocent. Can you imagine, a person spent his entire life in jail for something he didn’t do.”

At least Einstein was a good choice, I think, right?

I’m not going to read into Bryz’s desires to meet a dead tyrant too much. I suppose one could understand the desire to meet such a controversial historical figure to try and figure out why he did what he did to your native country, but to say you feel positively about him and see logic in his actions… tough to see logic in that.

To end on a lighter note, this Google Translate of “Broad Street Bullies” is just fantastic:

- Because of the street, which plays “Philadelphia,” the team called “highway robbers.” The club associate themselves with this nickname?
- It is in the past century. Now we do not like the “highway robbers.” We can fight, but no more than other teams. Previously, it was like: there were teams that could play hockey. Against these players, “Philadelphia” is a tough game, all were beaten, and then started to score goals (smiles).

  1. Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    In Bryz’s defense, Stalin is not viewed in such a black-and-white terms as he is in the U.S. Most of the general Russian population believe that while the things he did were horrifying, they were justified and ultimately a necessary evil to save the USSR while it was still a young struggling nation. Add that to the fact that many Russians believe Stalin’s leadership is the number one reason for the defeat of Nazi Germany, it’s not strange that Bryz see’s him in a different light then the average American. It’s not nearly as controversial over there as it is here, where we a quick to denounce Stalin as a tyrant.

    That being said, it’s no surprise that an American audience might find his comments a bit…distasteful.

    • Enrico Campitelli Jr. - May 15, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      Thanks for that response. I think it’s certainly important to at least point out how the Russian population seems to feel.

    • Flyerdommo - May 15, 2013 at 4:06 PM

      The majority of the Russian population still believes it was Stalin’s personal achievement that the Red Army was able to conquer Nazi Germany. However, this is merely a myth actually given birth to by the Soviet propaganda machine. In actual fact, the Soviet Union won the war DESPITE Stalin’s rule and very nearly collapsed for a number of reasons Stalin has to held accountable for: He robbed the Red Army of its strategic capabilities by executing almost the entire officer staff in the years prior to the Great Patriotic War;he systematically ignored warnings by Soviet intelligence that the Wehrmacht was about to invade in the summer of 1941, an inadequacy which contributed mightily to the German conquests of Russian territory at the beginning of the war; he stubbornly refused to change the stupid strategy of not giving up any ground in the face of the Wehrmacht’s onslaught, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Russian POWs. Bryz seems to belong to those in Russia who have as of yet failed to lift the veil of propaganda lies surrounding the Stalin tyranny.

      • MANdroid81 - May 15, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        Just another notable case in the long line of events that can be chalked up as history being written by the victor

  2. BenE. - May 15, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Let’s remember that American history books are generously slanted in America’s favor, and aren’t nearly as favorable to foreign powers. Of course a Russian will have a bit more balanced view on Stalin.

    • Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      This has nothing to do with America you idiot. He’s talking about one of histories biggest monsters and saying he has a “positive” opinion of him. That is not cool.

      • BenE. - May 15, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        Considering we are all Americans giving our opinion on Josef Stalin, I think it’s a relevant point to make. We are taught in history class about the brutality of slavery and how great Thomas Jefferson was. But no students are ever taught Jefferson owned over 200 slaves during his lifetime. But does that detract from the general opinion of Thomas Jefferson in this country? Apparently not, nor should it, in my opinion, because that’s “just the way it was” in that time. Still, I’m sure the most hardcore opponents of slavery have a more negative view of Jefferson than the rest of us.

        How is all that related to this story? Well, we’ve been taught for decades how bad communism is. The 50s to 80s generations were taught to fear Russia. That was the mentality of this country. We are largely opposed to communism to this day. Still, it stands to reason that one who grew up in a communist country would have a more favorable view of communism, no? That is Bryzgalov’s mindset, here. I think it is safe to assume that students in Russia are taught a more favorable lesson about Josef Stalin than students in the communist-opposed USA.

    • swediep - May 15, 2013 at 6:30 PM

      American History?? I was raised and educated in Sweden if you want some true balance to this. There are facts that can not be denied. No matter how you twist YOUR history,. the numbers of dead and those who “simply disappeared” makes any fanatic jabber sound uneducated!!

      • BenE. - May 15, 2013 at 10:20 PM

        I hate to jump on a fellow Swede…but are you dumb? My point was that American history classes are biased toward American sentiments. Why are you acting like you disagree even though you actually agree with that assessment?

  3. Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    I wouldn’t mind meeting Stalin or Hitler. Two of the most vicious and powerful leaders of the past century. Who wouldn’t want to ask them some questions?

    And as far as Stalin goes, we hate communists here so we’re going to take offense to anything that mentions him in a positive light. Bryz is Russian so he is interested in him. Just like some of us would like to meet any of our slave-owning founding fathers.

    • Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      thought i was on a glenn beck site for a minute with these responses. it doesn’t matter what “russians” think of stalin. he was a mass murderer ten times over what hitler was. guess what? there are some germas who still like hitler! doesn’t mean we should be ok with flyers players saying they have a “positive” view point of him. can you imagine? giroux coming out “yeah i got a positive opinion of hitler” …that would be unacceptable and it’s unacceptabe for bryz to say he has a positive view point of stalin. if all he had said was “i’d like to interview him” , fine, but that’s NOT what he said.

      • BenE. - May 15, 2013 at 1:29 PM

        In the simplest terms, Hitler’s actions also ended up dividing Germany while Stalin laid the groundwork for Russia to unite and become the global power it is today. The debate, of course, if whether the end justifies the means. From my American viewpoint, the answer is no. To a Russian, it could be very different.

      • coopjr - May 15, 2013 at 4:52 PM

        It’s worse.

        I read somewhere that Giroux likes country music…

        Broke my heart.

  4. Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Given that Hitler’s bodycount is generally considered the absolute floor for Stalin’s, yeah, I’d say that having a “balanced view” of Stalin is pretty pathetic, albeit all too typical nowadays when we’re not supposed to have strong opinions about right and wrong because Native Americans or something.

    Comparing Stalin to a wrongful conviction is almost perfect Bryz. I mean, here in this country, people can be convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Can you imagine? Only in America, man.

    • BenE. - May 15, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      Brygalov’s point about wrongful imprisonment is that even in the United States there are innocent people who are repressed. I won’t even touch upon the faults of this current administration and how it is greatly repressing our growth.

      • Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 12:45 PM

        Ben E, please read your history books before posting. Please google Katyn or how the Poles, Czechs or any other Eastern European peoples feel about Stalin. I’m a Republican, and comparing Obama’s bad policies to Stalin’s estimated 20 million dead, well, as they said in Pulp Fiction, “…ain’t the same fucking ballpark. It ain’t the same league. It ain’t even the same fucking sport.”

      • BenE. - May 15, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        I am well-aware of the negatives of Stalin’s rule. He was certainly one of the most brutal, ruthless leaders in world history. I know that for every 5-Year Plan, there was a Holodomor. Stalin brought Russia from economic ruin to an industrial world power. He also expelled or executed millions of his opponents.

        As far as how the Polish or Czech feel about Stalin today, how is that relevant? We’re talking about how a Russian feels about a Russian leader. Of course a Russian may have a different view of Stalin than an American, Pole, or Czech. Flawed logic or not, Bryz’s opinion of Stalin is bound to be more balanced than the average American (you and I included).

      • EdF - May 16, 2013 at 12:01 AM

        BenE, you ask how a Pole’s or Czech’s opinion is relevant to a view of Stalin? As someone of Polish heritage I can tell you why. Americans may have forgotten, or never knew, but thousands of Poles and other eastern europeans suffered and died due to Stalin and the Russians. The equivalent of a Nazi death camp was the Katyn forest massacre. Or being sent to exile and certian death in Siberia. How about decades of occupation after WWII? The point of how offensive it is to sympathize with a monster might be lost on you if you are not aware of how much of a monster he really was. The dude murdered and terrorized whole countries, including his own. That is not a political opinion like conservative vs liberal or something like that, these are vile and heinous acts.

      • BenE. - May 16, 2013 at 1:16 AM

        EdF, believe me, I am well-aware of what happened in Eastern Europe under Stalin. I made that very clear. However, the point I’m making which several people aren’t grasping for some reason is that a RUSSIAN’S view of a RUSSIAN communist leader is obviously going to be quite different from what Americans, Poles, and many other people think.

  5. Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    No fan of Bryzgalov but I don’t see any reason to bash him over whom he would interview. All sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds would make for an interesting interview. Life is about many things – not the least of exploration for the sake of learning.

    • Enrico Campitelli Jr. - May 15, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      I didn’t bash him for his choice per se — and I don’t think I bashed him exactly — more just pointing out the questionable view points. That’s all. People are going to talk about it. So why not talk about it here. I think a couple of commenters pointing out that this is a common viewpoint in Russia has added to it all.

      • Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        I should have been clearer. I was speaking for myself and not the author.

  6. Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 1:41 PM


  7. Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Thank goodness for the Amnesty availability.

  8. Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    We now have more people in US prisons than Stalin had in the Gulag…think about that.

  9. Anonymous - May 15, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Ben E. is much worse than usual today.

  10. Boris - May 15, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Everybody, except the flyers front decks, understanding that BRZ is mentality sick guy. Even Russian team keep him as back up G Only Flyers enemy could made the contract with guy

    • Joe_W - May 15, 2013 at 5:53 PM

      Obviously you have not followed the World games. From Bill Meltzer:

      “The Russians have rotated three goalies throughout the tourney, with Bryzgalov getting three starts (a 14-save shutout of Belarus, the 5-3 win over the U.S. and a 3-1 win over Slovakia). Overall, his goals against average is 1.33 and save percentage is .934 in his three outings.

      Even so, there seems to be less media and fan focus on his overall solid play than on a couple of goals he allowed. There is no mention of the fact that he has outplayed Semyon Varlamov (2-1-0, 2.68 GAA, .908 save percentage) and KHL goaltender Vasili Koshechkin, who was in net for the Russians stunning loss to France.”

  11. hockeyhead137 - May 15, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Maybe Bryz should be more interested in interviewing Vladislav Tretiak, Then he could actually learn something about his chosen trade.

  12. SturdyBeggar - May 17, 2013 at 12:41 AM

    You guys are certainly more well versed in European and WW2 history than I am, but after 1.5 tortured seasons watching Bryzgalov in Philadelphia…..I’ve been educated. His space cadet comments and well crafted “free spirit” persona are one tiny blip away from being labeled as phony. I think he is jerking the Philly fans and media around. Very few knowledgeable fans will question the Flyers should they choose to amnesty this guy. I’d rather have Stevie Wonder playing goal every night.


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