Today we reach day 30 of the Countdown to Coyotes Preseason, which also means only one month until Phoenix Coyotes preseason hockey (hopefully)! In yesterday's post Carl looked at a colorful Coyote, Paul Bissonnette. Today we'll look at yet another colorful player, Ilya Bryzgalov. Although we only recently got a full taste of Bryz's...uh...colorfulness during HBO's coverage of the Winter Classic, but we did get a glimpse of it back in his days as an Anaheim Duck.
For the most part Bryzgalov was straight faced and taking care of business during his time in the desert. Originally claimed off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks, Bryz was put right into the position he couldn't find in Anaheim. Starting the very next day after being claimed by the Coyotes, Bryz went on to lock the starting goaltender position for the club. Eventually signing a three year extension the following January. Bryzgalov posted his best numbers in his final two seasons in the desert, while lending a major hand in the Coyotes' back to back playoff appearances.
After being knocked out in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings, the Coyotes looked to get revenge but found none as they were swept. Many fans and critics couldn't help but notice that among other things, the goaltending was almost non-existent. It was later revealed that the net-minder had gone to Head Coach Dave Tippett before Game 1's puck drop to voice concerns of a rumor that had spread about the Coyotes relocating, changing the atmosphere of the room.
That would prove to be Bryzgalov's final appearance in a Coyotes uniform. Leaving the desert for a bigger pay day and recreational parks, Bryz signed with the Philadelphia Flyers on June 23, 2011. In a move that guaranteed a lame duck season for the Coyotes as the critics predicted actually paved the way for goalie, Mike Smith to take the starting spot and run with it. Unfortunately for Ilya, the move wasn't as smooth, as he posted a .909 save percentage during the season and rounded out a playoff run with .887%.
Luckily for Coyotes fans, Ilya Bryzgalov won't be remembered for the goofy comments he made or the lack of confidence he spoke about to reporters but for giving the Coyotes a solid three seasons of top-notch goaltending that put the Phoenix Coyotes back on the NHL map.