Ever since the news broke that the Flyers acquired the rights to free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov
, fans have been eagerly awaiting to hear from the prized goaltender.
Well, their wait came to an end today. And just as the Flyers management found out, so too will fans that Bryzgalov wants just one thing.
“I want to help this team win the Stanley Cup because people in Philadelphia and the organization have waited long enough,” said Bryzgalov on a conference call from his home country of Russia.
An attitude like that would certainly excite any NHL club’s GM and would normally be common practice to test the free agent market and let team’s come chase after you.
So after all of this, why would Bryzgalov not even begin to think about entertaining suitors?
The reason: One trip to Philadelphia.
“First of all, when I came to Philadelphia, I met Mr. [Ed] Snider, Paul Holmgren and other people in the organization. We talked to each other and they told me the philosophy of the team. I like the philosophy of the team – winning, and everything in Philadelphia. I like this philosophy and it’s my philosophy too. I want to win.”
Bryzgalov brings with him 78 wins and 15 shutouts combined over the last two seasons, that’s tops in the entire NHL in both categories.
He posted a 36-20-10 record this past season with a 2.48 GAA and .921 save percentage in 68 games played. In fact, he has played 65 games or more in each of the last three seasons.
Bryzgalov also brings big-game experience between the pipes. He’s won a gold medal for his country (2009 World Championships) and in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games he has a 2.23 goals-against average and .925 save percentage with an overall 12-9 record.
Lest we not forget, Bryzgalov has also tasted the ultimate success.
Back in 2007, he won a Stanley Cup as a back up to J-S Giguere. But it’s that experience that gives the 6’3’’, 213-pound goaltender his motivation.
“[It’s] One of the greatest moments in my life because it was such a long season, such competitive teams and such competitive players play against you. When it’s over and you’ve got success. There’s nothing better.”
Bryzgalov also freely admits that the organization and he might just have the exact same personality.
“This team always drafted a big, aggressive team that doesn’t like to [be second best]. They always like to play great hockey and they want to dominate. I know it’s a long long time. It’s a big, aggressive team that wants to dominate on the ice.”
Coming off a third consecutive season in which the Flyers have lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions (2011 – Boston; 2010 – Chicago; 2009 – Pittsburgh), Flyers fans have been eagerly anticipating a star goaltender to step up and lead this team.
On June 7 of this year, it looks like the Orange & Black have their man to carry the load.
“I want to be the guy who can carry this team. It depends on how much the team needs me. If the team needs me 82 games I’ll play 82 games. If the team needs me 60 games I’ll play 60 games. It’s the coach’s decision and management’s decision. We’ll see how much we go through the whole season.”