The latest Bryzgalov's interview with Russian newspaper
Bryzgalov’s interview to “Russkaya Gazeta”. Also, you can find bits and pieces of it on broadstreethockey.com. Enjoy:
The most highly paid NHL goalkeeper speaks about youth hockey, life in America and the price of big victories
We met with Iliya in the Moscow suburb of Strogino in the lavish sport complex “Yantar”. It was the place where Iliya had held his goalie classes for the youngster. Bryzgalov, dressed in Flyers warm-up suit, exited the building accompanied by teenagers. He was tired and hungry, but obviously satisfied with day of work.
The best to children
If you would like to skip to the Flyers related questions , pleas go to the next paragraph
A: Iliya, summer is a vacation time. One could spend some time on a beach to get some rest before the season, and you are spending your time with children. Tell us what’s the need? (Evgeniy Malkin assisted Bryz with his classes. CSKA)
IB: I have rested enough. I had time to lie on a beach, visit my family and friends. Why do I organize these classes? I’ve heard there is a problem, and I came to solve it somehow. At least I am trying.
A: Leading by example, then?
IB: It’s good for all of us; not only children, but all of us. Because we communicate, learn something new, meet interesting people. In general, these projects are interesting when they are created around children. Because, children are the best of what we have and we must pass the best onto them. So that we do not live in ruins, and they keep building better future.
A: Did you lack such classes in your childhood?
IB: Of course. Had I had a coach that would tutor me constantly it would have been much better for me. May be I would have started playing in the NHL at the age of 22 not 25. Who knows? I did not have such an opportunity.
A: We are impressed with this facility- everything is new and modern. What were the conditions when you started?
IB: I started in place where a lot of legends trained – smiles.
A: But the conditions, perhaps, changed?
IB: I honestly do not know. I am very removed from local reality, because I spend most of my time overseas. When I started the equipment was distributed. It was in a poor condition, but it was free. Our parents did not have to worry about buying us equipment, sticks. As far as I know, parents must buy equipment now. It’s a step back in my opinion, but at least quality of equipment is better.
A: Paradox- the conditions are better, but, as you said, the problems with childrens sport are bigger. Why is that?
IB: I grew up in the Soviet Union. Everyone had pretty much even salary- 120-140 rubles a month. The coaches had definitive salaries. There is a huge economical gap in the society now. For the coach, who makes 10, 000- 15, 000 rubles a months, it is very difficult to survive in any city in the country, especially in Moscow. What does the coach have to do to survive? Therefore, there is corruption in youth hockey. Therefore, a lot of potential stars do not get to develop. Because, they do nbot have money.
A: Why do you think there are fewer high level goalies being developed lately?
IB: The fact is that nobody trains goalies to that level. However, there is a hope. We have a professional league now- KHL. People invest great deal of money there, and they, accordingly, expect results. They want championships, medals. The managers have to keep their jobs and therefore select the best. Also, people would like to see quality performances. So we are returning to basics. If we do not start to develop young players properly, that eventually will compete better than foreign players, than our hockey does not have any future. We have to improve youth hockey to get results
(I omitted some parts of the interview for the sake of space. CSKA)
You have got to be an artisan
A: You became the highest paid goalie in the NHL. What is the importance of money to you?
IB: Money is paper. The most important in life is knowledge that you have and can apply. You have got to be an artisan (translated as close to Bryz’s statement as possible. CSKA). If you know how to do something, you will always be able to feed yourself and do something. You will always find people, who will support your ideas, will help in application of your skills and knowledge.
A: You have become a Flyers goalkeeper, the team that traditionally has not been welcoming to Russians. Are you concerned?
IB: "Well, they had Zherdev and Bobrovsky. They talk very highly of Bobrovsky. They don’t look at your passport and treat you by that. They treat you by your actions and how well you can respond to their expectations considering your paycheck. They look at how you fit in on the team and how you behave and treat you accordingly. If you’re a good guy and do your job, there will be no problems. If you have problems, it doesn’t matter what it says in your passport." (translated by Teemu on Broadstreethockey.com)
A: Nevertheless, there have been a very few Russians in Philadelphia. It’s not Detroit or Washington. It’s hardly a chance.
IB: Every team has its own style, and they select the players that fit into it.
A: How did you like Philadelphia?
IB: Wonderful city. A former capital- how can it be bad? (Little does he know. CSKA )
A: What impressed you the most?
IB: People. How they are loyal to their team, how they love it. Frankly, I have not seen much in Philadelphia- I was there for 2 days only and mostly at the training arena). There is Liberty Bell there and the building where the Declaration of Independence was signed. There is a lot of history there America was founded there. (My understanding of the original statement- America as a statehood. CSKA).
A: What is the climate there?
IB: The same as in Russia.
A: We asked that because of the information that you refused to relocate to Winnipeg with Coyotes due to cold weather.
IB: I simply knew that Coyotes would not go there. But it’s really cold in there- laughs.
A: In other words, there is nothing to do there?
IB: Well, people live there, but that was not an option for me.
A: What is your opinion about return of the Winnipeg to the NHL?
IB: I stay away from these comments. I am not a politician. They make it their own business. The bottom line is making money. If the team is going to make money, it will be beneficial to all.
A: Simply, contrary to a lot of American cities, Canadian fans are more passionate about hockey. Is not it more exciting to play in front of them?
IB: Yes, of course. But look at Edmonton. The team has been in the last place, and it’s not really exciting to play for that team. Everything is contingent on results.
America is simply a place to work
Again, I cut out some part of the interview, however I need to provide his answer to one of the stupid questions, especially since that part of the players’ job was a problem in Philadelphia.
IB: It’s part of my job to answer similar these questions, even if they have been asked 10, 100 times. As Michael Jordan once said, it’s not important what is being asked. I have 30 minutes to do the job I have to do. Period. The same here today. Regardless of the questions, I need to answer them. Regardless if I am pleased or bored, I have to do it for you.
A: A lot of our guys, NHL stars, are returning home. Kasatonov, Larionov, Zhamnov, Fetisov. Why is that? They had earned a lot of money; they have reputation there, etc.
IB: Our motherland, our friends are here. We were born here. There- is just job, not more than that. It has to be said, that work conditions are better there, it’s betere to raise your children there. But we grew up here, and we are partial to the destiny of this country. The guys come here and try to affect things, change something. May be they are mistaken, but we are all just people.
A: So, you are not planning to stay in the USA upon completion of your career?
IB: I would not say anything definitive now, but most likely I will return here. Again there is translational gap for the sake of relevance of the interview to the American public. I would like to mention that Bryz defended American construction skills in on of his answers. I am far from the great
A: You have mentioned in your interviews that sport is a “dog eats dog” world. How can you keep a human face?
IB: It depends on one’s emotional state.
A: And yours?
IB: I am calm. I worry only about things that I can affect.
A: Are you able?
IB: Certainly. It’s senseless to worry about the things you can’t control.
A: We have touched on your victories before. You have 2 big ones- Stanley Cup and World Cup. Which one is more valuable to you?
IB: the Stanley Cup.
A: Despite the fact that you carried the Russian team to the gold medals in 2009?
IB: Please understand the difference. World Cup is a short tournament. You have to play a huge number of games and put in a lot of effort in the NHL. It’s work till exhaustion. Everything has its value here: prestige, your name on the cup. And most of all, only the best of the best are playing in the NHL, and victory there means that you are indeed the best in the world.
A: Do you feel that you entered the level of the great players after winning the Stanley Cup?
IB: You have to win a lot t be called “great”. If you have a lot of medals on your chest and a lot of rings on your fingers only then you will be “great”. I think, I am not even close to this status.
A: There are a lot of players in the NHL who have played till almost 40, but have never won anything.
IB: Well, that happens. Also happens, that average players travel from team to team and win with every team they play for…
A: Can Flyers win the Stanley Cup?
IB: Yes, that’s why I signed there.
A: so, that is the main reason for you transfer?
IB: You are absolutely correct.
The rest of the interview was about Russian hockey and Russian Olympic team. Apparently, Bryz has been already selected to play in Sochi in 2014.
I would like to finish this post with Bryz’s answer that, in my opinion, reflects his character:
A: The thing you do with your school here is very patriotic, is not it?
IB: I do not know, but I am confident that one has to back one’s words with one’s deeds.