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OKC Barons: NHL veteran Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal on Friday night for Barons

The Stanley Cup-winning goaltender is in OKC to get in game shape before reporting to Edmonton Oilers.
by Michael Baldwin Modified: November 14, 2013 at 7:09 pm •  Published: November 14, 2013
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photo - Philadelphia Flyers' Ilya Bryzgalov (30), of Russia, makes a glove save in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Saturday, March 30, 2013, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 3-1. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Philadelphia Flyers' Ilya Bryzgalov (30), of Russia, makes a glove save in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Saturday, March 30, 2013, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 3-1. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

“That was fun,” Bryzgalov said. “It's pretty exciting to see how focused they are, how hard they battle. They really enjoy the game.”

Bryzgalov has a degree, which would allow him to teach and coach in Russia if he ever returned to his homeland. He regularly reads books and studies philosophy. In a handful of interviews since he signed last week, Bryzgalov's comments have been no-nonsense, to the point.

“I want to leave everything in the past because I was misunderstood so many times,” Bryzgalov said. “I don't want to continue talking about those things.”

Since both players will be free agents, Bryzgalov and Oilers' starter Devan Dubnyk could be competing for the Oilers' No. 1 goalie job next season.

Bryzgalov led the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to the Stanley Cup title in 2007. He owns 208 career NHL wins, a 2.55 goals against average and .913 save percentage. He was the starting goalie when Team Russia won back-to-back world championships.

His overall stats dipped slightly (2.61 GAA, .905 saves percentage) his two years in Philadelphia, a hockey crazed market that was a much brighter spotlight than Phoenix and Anaheim.

In a business decision, the Flyers bought out his contract for salary cap relief. Bryzgalov will receive $23 million over the next 14 years, roughly $1.6 million a year through 2028.

Five months later, Bryzgalov will be in net for the Barons, his first minor league game since 2005.

“He's a very honest person,” Nelson said. “I talked to him about his time in Philadelphia. He was very honest how he played. Right now, he's very hungry. That rubs off on our guys. Our guys will benefit from seeing how motivated he is.”

One of Bryzgalov's attempts at humor was in 2006 when he defended Anaheim teammate Chris Pronger for requesting to be traded from Edmonton, which he likened to the “North Pole.” Bryzgalov said earlier this week that he was joking since he experienced frigid weather growing up in Russia.

“Edmonton is my team right now,” Bryzgalov said. “I'm here (in Oklahoma City) trying to prepare myself so I can play hard for (the Oilers). I want to make them better.”

by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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