NHL

Bryzgalov happy to be in Edmonton after first practice

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TSN.ca Staff
11/18/2013 5:54:01 PM
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There were no bears, nor North Poles for Ilya Bryzgalov in his first taste of media scrutiny in Edmonton.

Despite reporters firing questions about the end of his tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers and previous comments comparing Edmonton's weather to the North Pole, Bryzgalov wanted to focus on the positives after his first practice with the Oilers on Monday.

"It's a Canadian city and people care about hockey," Bryzgalov told reporters. "It feels good to be back in the NHL."

Taking to the ice with his new teammates wearing the number 80 on Monday, Bryzgalov stood in front of a scrum for a few minutes to meet the Edmonton media.

The Oilers signed Bryzgalov to a one-year $2 million contract Nov. 8 after shedding payroll by dealing defenceman Ladislav Smid to the Flames.

Edmonton finalized their plans to put Bryzgalov into their crease rotation by placing back-up goalie Jason LaBarbera on waivers on Monday.

However, the Oilers are still sticking with plans to start Devan Dubnyk in net against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins would not commit to a timeline for Bryzgalov to take to the crease.

"I'm comfortable when he's comfortable," Eakins said. "A lot will have to do if [Dubnyk] can keep rolling like he is. Dubs is going lights out, Dubs gets the net."

Bryzgalov bristled when asked if he plans to make the most of a second chance in the NHL after being bought-out by the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I never lost a first chance," Bryzgalov told reporters, reminding them that he's only missed just over a month's worth of the 2013-14 NHL season.

With seven years remaining on a $51 million, nine-year contract he signed in 2011, the Flyers were forced to pay him two-thirds of the balance owed on his remaining term, $23 million.

Bryzgalov quipped that he was able to make the most of his downtime while not attending an NHL training camp and even found some upside in the Flyers buyout.

"It's out of my control if they decide to buy me out," he told reporters. "I just have to accept it and move on. I had a great time. I don't have much opportunity to spend time with my family. Had such a great, quality time. Usually it's a two-month break, now I pretty much had five months I spent with my kids."

Bryzgalov was loaned to the American Hockey League's Oklahoma City Barons on Nov. 9 for conditioning ahead of joining the Oilers.

When asked about his short tenure with the Barons, Bryzgalov admitted to playing some catch-up.

"The first game I felt a little bit clumsy," Bryzgalov said in reference to the five goals he surrendered in his Oklahoma City debut. He added he was "was not comfortable with lots of players skating back and forth in front".

But he would also state that trying to improve should be part of any NHL career, saying "you've got to continue to prove yourself."

Bryzgalov stopped 25 shots on Saturday in the Oklahoma City Barons' 4-1 victory over the Abbotsford Heat.

In two games with the Barons since signing with Edmonton, Bryzgalov surrendered six goals on 50 shots for a 3.03 goals-against average and a .880 save percentage.

He did conclude the scrum on a positive note, however, stating: "I'm glad we reached an agreement and I'm happy to be here."

In 425 career NHL games with the Flyers, Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes, Bryzgalov has posted a 208-149-45 career record with a .913 save percentage and a 2.55 goals-against average. He was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team in 2009-10 and won the Stanley Cup in 2006-07 as a member of the Ducks.

Ilya Bryzgalov (Photo:  Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
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