Ilya Bryzgalov is sorry and didn’t mean to offend the good people of Winnipeg.
Bryzgalov created a bit of an uproar when he spoke to Winnipeg Sun columnist Paul Friesen about the prospects of the Phoenix Coyotes moving to Winnipeg after the Coyotes were swept from the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings last spring.
“You don't want to go to Winnipeg, right? Not many people live there, not many Russian people there,” Bryzgalov said at the time. “Plus it's cold. There's no excitement except the hockey. No park, no entertaining for the families, for the kids. It's going to be tough life for your family.”
Understandably, the message wasn’t well received by the patrons in this province and as Bryzgalov made his first trip to Winnipeg on Friday with his new team, the Philadelphia Flyers, he tackled the subject head-on.
Bryzgalov approved of the mild temperatures that greeted him and was also quick to offer an olive branch.
“Let’s make this straight, once and for all,” said Bryzgalov, who signed a nine-year deal with the Flyers for $51 million as an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. “I was losing, I was disappointed first of all. Second of all, I didn’t want to move anywhere.
“I’m pretty sure it’s good people, beautiful people live in Winnipeg. I’m pretty sure it’s passionate fans. I didn’t mean it and I didn’t want to offend anybody. Sincerely, I apologize if I offended anybody in Canada or in Winnipeg. I didn’t mean it, to be honest. That’s it.”
The Winnipeg Jets host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday at 2 p.m. (CBC, TSN 1290) and even with his apology, Bryzgalov is likely to be greeted by a chorus of boos if he’s in goal for the visitors.