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Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov says sorry to Winnipeg

Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov of the Philadelphia Flyers has said sorry for his remarks earlier this year about the city of Winnipeg. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov wants everyone in Winnipeg to know that he is sorry for being mean about the city last spring. So sorry he's willing to take a tour to see how nice it is.

The Russian goalie raised the ire of Winnipeggers when he was with the Phoenix Coyotes and got asked about the possibility of the team moving to the Manitoba capital.

"Not many people live there, not many Russian people there," he 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."

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On Friday after a pregame skate in preparation for the Flyers game against the Winnipeg Jets Saturday, Bryzgalov apologized.

"I'm pretty sure good people, beautiful people live in Winnipeg. I'm pretty sure passionate fans. I didn't mean it and I don't want to offend anybody," he said. "I just I sincerely apologize if I offend somebody, fans in Canada and Winnipeg. I didn't mean it to be honest."

He said he was frustrated at the time about the Coyotes situation and shot off his mouth.

He joked that he hoped Winnipeg fans "aren't going to be too tough on me" during Saturday's game.

Bryzgalov has yet to get much of a look at the city. "We arrived late last night and pretty much walking under the ground, mall to the building. I haven't had an excursion yet. Maybe later of the day, take a tour," he said. As for the temperature, -6 and snowing, "Not to bad," he said with a smile.

Bryzgalov and the Flyers don't have fond memories of the last game against the Jets, a 9-8 win in Philadelphia for Winnipeg that was considered one of the wildest NHL games this season. After that game, Bryzgalov said he'd hit the lowest point of his career. But he and the Flyers bounced back and have been one of the best teams lately.

He said the team is pulling together and each player is taking responbility.

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"Just continued to work," he said referring to his own play.

Coach Peter Laviolette said he has looked at the tape of the 9-8 game and still can't figure out what happened.

"There was a lot of tough bounces," he said Friday. "We didn't give up a whole lot of quality chances but for some reason they went in the net...I know that sounds hard to believe when you give up nine goals but not a lot of quality chances they just ended up in the net."

Laviolette also talked briefly about his tactics during the Flyers recent game against Tampa Bay, when Philadelphia basically stopped playing after the Lightning fell into a 1-3-1 defensive position.

"I know it created some talk out there, some hockey talk as to what should be done or who's right and who's wrong. We looked at it as being patient offensively and trying to draw out one of their forwards," he said.

When asked if he would do it again, Laviolette replied: "I don't really like to put my game plan out on the TV but I don't know why other teams wouldn't do that. If they had a lead I don't know why they wouldn't do that. Try and get them out of their comfort zone of what it is that they want to do."

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Is it a fair tactic? "Absolutely it's a fair tactic," he said. "We're not hiding when we do that. We're not hiding behind the net. We're not building a wall around the puck. We leave a guy in open ice, invite the puck, come and get it."

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About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More

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