Tyler J. Altemose

It’s not often that I write about the Western Conference, but there’s a story out there which has me scratching my head.

Paul Friesen of QMI Agency recently published this article on lfpress.com in which soon-to-be-free agent Ilya Bryzgalov expressed his unwillingness to move to Winnipeg with the Coyotes-turned-Jets-or-some-other-team, as well as his displeasure with the city itself.

"You don't want to go to Winnipeg, right?" Bryzgalov said after the Coyotes lost to Detroit, Wednesday night. "Not many people live there, not many Russian people there. 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."

I didn’t know so many Russian people lived in Anaheim and Phoenix, Mr. Bryzgalov. And the cold―I’m sure you’d have to be born in Russia or something to be able to deal with the cold of Winnipeg, right? Right?

Hey, Ilya. Pennsylvania has two communities in which the percentage of Russians in their population peaks within the top ten in the United States. How about you play for the Flyers? C’mon, Schaefferstown is only about 1.5 hours from Philly. Plus I hear the spring time there is just divine.

Look, I don’t mean to harp on the guy for looking out for his family while moving. But dude, you’re making over $4 million. I’m sure your family will be well taken care of regardless of where you or they live.

When asked about being propositioned by Winnipeg ownership about a contract for next season, Bryzgalov had the following to say:

"Probably not. I better go to somewhere in Russia, KHL, to be honest. Because KHL is Russian people, it's family, friends. Even as a cold place, I can speak to people in Russian language."

Yeah. That whole “sticking it to the ownership and moving to the KHL” thing should work out real well. Just ask fellow comrade Evgeni Nabakov how that went for him.

And of course I didn’t get to the most head-scratching part of this whole situation. Who on Earth said that the Coyotes are moving back to Winnipeg next season? The most headway that’s been made so far is that the NHL is asking the people of Winnipeg to make commitments on deposits for long-term season ticket investments to see if the city can produce enough revenue to support an NHL organization.

But I digress.

It seems that what we have here is a dude from a crappy, cold, boring place that has become spoiled by the pleasures of the climate of Anaheim and Phoenix. And for that I can’t blame him. But he’s at the tail end of a multi-million dollar contract. Yes, he has every right to tell the team no, but I could name at least 15 better reasons to not be a member of the Coyotes/Jets organization than the weather situation.

Bryzgalov, I respect you as a player. Heaven knows a guy like you could be the key to a team like the Flyers winning the Stanley Cup (don’t get me started). But for a guy from Russia, complaining about the prospect of moving to a cold place to play hockey just makes you look like a big, fat baby.

By the way, as I write this it’s 36 degrees Fahrenheit in Togliatti, Russia―Bryzgalov’s home town.

Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, it’s a balmy 48 degrees.