Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you no doubt have heard the news that the Edmonton Oilers have signed Ilya Bryzgalov, the Russian goaltender who has been burlesqued, lampooned and ridiculed in the hockey media for the past three years. The hockey world as I’ve discovered is one in which a great many involved — teams, players, media, and fans alike — are very insular and even xenophobic on occasion. It is also at times a contradictory world of full-blown machismo and a “pour your heart out” mentality, which often lends further fuel to being lampooned.
Some of the reasons for Bryzgalov’s lampooning is his goaltending, but the rest is related to his own spoken words, which frankly and honestly, are very often lost in translation. Bryzgalov is a funny guy with great sense of humor, and he speaks from his heart, forthrightly, sharing a part of his soul, and wow, does he ever get beat up for that honesty and sharing. On top of all of that is the fact that English is not Bryzgalov’s first language, not to mention that he is Russian, which let’s face it, is an entire world away from North America culturally.
My advice for Edmonton fans and media this season is to focus on his hockey and the essence of his words and you will have a far greater understanding of this fellow. He is not your standard North American same old generic boring professional athlete’s quote, and in that respect he is a breath of fresh air. Terry Jones recently interviewed Bryzgalov following his signing with Edmonton and shared some nice quotes:
| Regarding Bryzgalov’s short assignment in Oklahoma City in preparation for Edmonton:
“I am leaving in the morning. I think it’s going to be one week to get myself in good shape to go to Edmonton. I must play a couple games. If I’m not playing any games, I wouldn’t know what things to work on. Only the games show that.”
| Regarding his preseason training with the Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL):
“Las Vegas was a great opportunity to work with the shooters. They shoot the puck on me. I couldn’t find any shooters here. I skate without the puck but I haven’t had any pucks shot at me in three weeks.”
| Getting back to hockey and what he learned from his time in Philadelphia:
“It’s a good opportunity for me to play hockey again[….] You do more learning from the tough times you’ve been through. When times are difficult it forces you to think and do things you’ve never done. I learned a lot from these two years in Philly.”
| Bryzgalov’s reply to Jones when asked about Philadelphia:
“I just can tell you when the time right. I will write the book. You can read it then.”
| Bryzgalov’s intent and hope about his upcoming season in Edmonton:
“I am looking forward to showing people about me. At the end of the year maybe you will make a statement about me.”
I am greatly looking forward to watching Ilya Bryzgalov in Oklahoma City for a few games. This will be even better than the entire Edmonton Oilers team coming to OKC. This season alone we have seen a nice group of NHLers come through OKC with their AHL teams: Manny Malhotra (Charlotte Checkers/Carolina Hurricanes), Aaron Rome (Texas Stars/Dallas Stars), Alexandre Bolduc (Chicago Wolves/St. Louis Blues) and now Ilya Bryzgalov. Welcome to OKC, Ilya! Удачи!
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