Katz to Bryzgalov: see city for yourself

Ross Romaniuk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:43 PM ET

Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov already has a free plane ticket to Winnipeg for a trip this spring or summer, if he wants it, courtesy of Mayor Sam Katz.

The mayor says he’s willing to pay out of his own pocket for Bryzgalov to fly here to get a taste of the city, after the netminder told the Winnipeg Sun this week that he wants no part of Winnipeg, should the Coyotes relocate to Manitoba for the next NHL season.

“I will extend an invitation to him, and will personally pay for the airline ticket for him to come here and really get an understanding of Winnipeg, what it’s all about and what it has to offer. When he sees the variety of culture, arts and sports, and all the activities in our wonderful city, he might have a completely different opinion,” Katz told the Sun.

Katz extended the offer through the Sun after the 30-year-old Russian star player decried Winnipeg’s winters and said “there’s no excitement except the hockey” in Manitoba’s capital. The six-year NHL player, who has also been with the Anaheim Ducks, added that “not many Russian people” live in Winnipeg to make it enticing for him.

“Plus, it’s cold. No park, no entertaining for the families, for the kids,” the goalie said after the financially troubled Coyotes were poised for potential relocation following their loss to the Detroit Red Wings in a Western Conference opening playoff series.

“It’s going to be tough life for your family.”

If the Coyotes move to Winnipeg, Bryzgalov said, he probably won’t listen to a contract offer from the team’s new owners.

Bryzgalov noted that he has been to Winnipeg “just once, maybe twice,” as an AHL player for games against the Manitoba Moose, and “used the tunnels between the buildings to get to the arena” to avoid the chilly winter conditions.

Denys Volkov, a Winnipeg resident of Ukrainian and Russian ancestry, points out that Winnipeg has a Russian-Canadian community of “a few thousand” who would make the goalie feel more than welcome.

“We have a new group of young, Russian-speaking newcomers who organize Russian nightclub parties,” said Volkov, 32, who has lived in Winnipeg since 2003.

“We’ve also started getting Russian concerts and theatres coming to our city. We have a great Assiniboine Park, being renovated as we speak.”

— With files from Paul Turenne


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