Former Duck Ilya Bryzgalov, along with New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
In his second season as the Coyotes’ starter, Bryzgalov was second in the league in shutouts (8), third in wins (42), sixth in goals-against average (2.29), seventh in starts (69) and eighth in both shots faced (1,961) and saves (1,805). His season included a shutout streak of 137 minutes and 46 seconds which spanned parts of three games from October 12-15. He also bobs his head and sings “What is Love?” from “A Night at the Roxbury.”
Bryz was the backup to Jean-Sebastien Giguere for parts of four
seasons until Jonas Hiller arrived in Anaheim. His rise to prominence in Phoenix, along with today’s announcement that he was among the top three in Vezina voting by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, has led to many retellings of the story of his exodus from Anaheim.
For those wondering how the Ducks could have let Bryzgalov leave for free, here is what we wrote when he was placed on waivers in November, 2007 …
There has been interest around the NHL in dealing for Ducks
goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov since the Stanley Cup was hoisted in June. Only the
interest wasn’t strong enough for general manager Brian Burke to find a trading
partner by his self-imposed Friday deadline.
Following through on an agreement with Bryzgalov’s agent,
Burke then placed Bryzgalov, the Ducks’ primary backup goaltender since
2005-06, on waivers. The team also recalled rookie Jonas Hiller from Portland
of the American Hockey League on Friday, a substantial changing of the guard
that had been expected for some time.
“We didn’t sign Jonas Hiller to play in Portland,” Burke
said in a conference call. Bryzgalov has until 9 a.m. today to clear waivers,
meaning that any other team can claim him until then, with priority given to
teams lower in the standings. If he isn’t claimed by another team, he will
return to the Ducks, but that scenario is not expected.
In the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season,
Bryzgalov started four games against the Minnesota Wild, going 3-1 to further
the Ducks’ Stanley Cup run. He took on the No. 1 role again to start this
season while Jean-Sebastien Giguere recovered from hernia surgery and posted a
2.55 goals-against average and 2-3 record in nine games, including seven
“He’s been great,” Burke said of Bryzgalov. “He has not
asked for a trade. … He never came to me and said, ‘I want out.’ His agent
(Don Meehan) never said ‘I want out.’ “
The move also clears some room under the salary cup for the
Ducks — though Burke said that wasn’t his primary motivation for waiving
Bryzgalov, who was owed $1.36 million and was due to become an unrestricted
free agent July 1.
Hiller, 25, was signed as a free agent to an $850,000
contract out of the Swiss League on May 25. He appeared in two games earlier
this season, going 1-1 with a 3.02 goals-against average.
In explaining the move, Burke said he had been actively
pursuing a trade for some time.
“One of the teams that’s been kicking tires on him, I called
them last night and said, ‘This is your last chance to get him before he’s
available on waivers, so as of tomorrow, you’re at the mercy of standings as
the team with the lowest position in the standings has priority in a waiver
claim,’ ” Burke said. “I said ‘As of tomorrow, you’re taking your chances,’ and
I never even got a call back.
“I’m content and I’ve said to ownership I’m content,”
he continued. “I’ve turned over every stone here as far as being able to move
him for something and now it’s time to keep our word.”