Ilya Bryzgalov

Ilya Nikolayevich Bryzgalov (born June 22, 1980) is a Russian professional ice hockey goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected in the second round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, 44th overall, by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

In 2006–07 NHL season, Bryzgalov won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks. Internationally, he has earned a Bronze Medal with Russia at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and a Silver Medal at the 2000 World Junior Championships. Ilya also competed in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and is a 3-time Olympian. He helped Team Russia as starting goaltender win back to back Gold Medals at the 2009 World Ice Hockey Championships, making them ranked number one in the world. He was also runner-up for the Vezina Trophy and a top 5 finalist for the Hart Trophy in the 2009–10 NHL season.

Playing career

Early years/Anaheim tenure

Bryzgalov started his professional career in his native Russia, splitting the 1999–2000 season between Spartak Moscow of the Russian Supreme League (RSL-2) and Lada Togliatti of the Russian Superleague (RSL). Bryzgalov played two seasons with Lada Togliatti, before joining the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who had drafted him in the second round, 44th overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

Ilya Bryzgalov playing for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks.

However, with Jean-Sébastien Giguère and Martin Gerber ahead of him in the club’s depth chart, Bryzgalov spent the better part of his first four seasons in North America with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the American Hockey League (AHL). He made his Mighty Ducks debut in 2001–02, playing in his first of two games during that four-season stretch.

With the departure of backup Gerber, Bryzgalov took over behind Giguère in 2005–06 season. However, injuries to the Ducks starter[1][2][3] allowed Bryzgalov to play more games than he otherwise would have and he responded to the challenge with a 13-12-1 record with a 2.51 goals against average (GAA) and .910 save percentage. In the subsequent playoffs, Bryzgalov made three starts and one relief appearance for the Ducks in their first-round series against the Calgary Flames. In Game One, he filled in for an injured Giguère, taking a 2–1 overtime loss.[4] He relieved Giguère once more in Game 5 and stopped all 19 shots he faced in a 3–2 loss.[4] He then took over the starting job for Games 6 and 7 of the series, winning 2–1 in Game 6 and recording a shutout in the decisive Game 7. Moving past the Flames, Bryzgalov then recorded 5–0 and 3–0 shutouts in the first two games of the second series against the Colorado Avalanche for three consecutive shutouts. He tied Frank McCool’s 1945 playoff record for most consecutive shutouts by a rookie and passed Giguère, who had recorded consecutive shutouts in 2003 for the third longest playoff shutout streak of all-time.[5] Despite his success in the first two rounds, Bryzgalov struggled in the semi-finals against the Edmonton Oilers and was eventually replaced by Giguère for the rest of the series as the Ducks were eliminated in five games.

Bryzgalov warming up during the 2007 playoffs.

Bryzgalov continued to play backup to Giguere the following season and into the 2007 playoffs. Bryzgalov made comments regarding Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, saying he believed Carlyle has no confidence in him. However, he briefly took over as the starter for the first four games of the Western Conference quarter-finals, winning three games, as Giguère took a leave of absence with personal issues. Bryzgalov came in for relief in the Western Conference finals against the Detroit Red Wings, but remained on the bench as the Ducks went on to defeat the Ottawa Senators in the Finals in five games to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

Phoenix Coyotes

Bryzgalov with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010.

With the re-signing of Giguère to a four-year contract in the off-season and the acquisition of Jonas Hiller from Switzerland,[6] the Ducks attempted to trade Bryzgalov, but were unable to facilitate a deal.[7] General manager Brian Burke claimed he had a deal worked out at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but could not finish it.[6] As a result, on November 16, 2007, Bryzgalov was placed on waivers and claimed by the Phoenix Coyotes the following day on November 17.[8] In his first game with the team that same day, Bryzgalov made 27 saves for his 3rd career shutout in a 1–0 win over the Los Angeles Kings.[9] Phoenix promptly signed him to a 3-year contract extension and he went on to record 26 wins in 55 games for the Coyotes as they battled for a playoff spot, establishing himself as the club’s starting goaltender.

Bryzgalov again recorded 26 wins for the Coyotes during the 2008–09 NHL season, though the Coyotes did not qualify for the playoffs. But the 2009-10 NHL season would be a different story for Bryzgalov and the Coyotes, who would qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2002 on the back of Bryzgalov’s 42 victories. The fourth seeded Coyotes would face-off against the veteran Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarter Finals. The series proved to be a see-saw battle that eventually saw Detroit prevail in seven games. Bryzgalov would record a 3.43 goals-against-average during the series.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Coyotes during the 2010–11 NHL season, Bryzgalov’s 36 wins helped them to the 6th seed in the Western Conference and a return trip to the playoffs. Once again, the Coyotes faced the Red Wings. Despite Bryzgalov’s strong play throughout the regular season, he struggled in the playoff rematch with Detroit, recording a 4.36 goals-against-average as the Red Wings swept the Coyotes in four straight games. Set to become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, it became apparent that the Coyotes would not met Bryzgalov’s asking price for a contract extension. On June 6, 2011, Bryzgalov’s negotiation rights were traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, forward Matt Clackson, and future considerations.[10] Bryzgalov averaged 33 victories a season the past four seasons with the Coyotes.

Philadelphia Flyers

During the previous two seasons, the Flyers had lacked a player who consistently filled the starting goaltender position. The duo of Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher were able to help the team to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals in place of the injured starter Ray Emery, but neither goaltender held onto the starting position for an extended period of time. Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky was the Flyers starter in the 2010–11 season, but he and Boucher formed another tandem with similar inconsistency,[11] including a dismal playoff for both.

On June 23, 2011, the Flyers signed Bryzgalov to be their new starter, and signed him to a nine-year, $51 million contract. In order to accommodate his contract under the team’s salary cap, the Flyers made two high-profile trades an hour before the Bryzgalov signing was first reported, sending Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets (for Jakub Voracek, as well as first- and third-round picks in the 2011 draft) and captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings (for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a second-round pick).

On October 27, 2011, following a 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, Bryzgalov commented on his own play – “I have zero confidence in myself right now,” he said. He also likened himself to somebody “lost in the woods” and that “If you probably throw a ball instead of the puck, I’m not gonna stop it.” [12] However, Bryzgalov would quickly rebound by winning six of his next eight games. However, Bryzgalov made news when he said he believed that Sergei Bobrovsky would be the starter for the 2012 NHL Winter Classic: – “I have great news and even better news. Okay, great news is I’m not playing, and better news is we have a chance to win the game….(I’ll) make sure I don’t forget my thermos with some nice tea and enjoy the bench,” he said.[13] Bobrovsky then started the Winter Classic on January 2, 2012, a 3-2 Flyers loss to the New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Park.

Following a 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh on February 18, 2012, Bryzgalov was quoted as saying, “I know I was frustrated in my game today and I know I have to be better and I will continue to work on this, but….I will try to find peace in my soul to play in this city.” [14]

International play

Medal record

Ilya Bryzgalov
Competitor for  Russia
Ice hockey
World Championship
Gold 2009 Bern
Winter Olympics
Bronze 2002 Salt Lake City
World Junior Championships
Silver 2000 Umeå

Bryzgalov competed for Russia in the 2000 World Junior Championships in Umeå. He recorded a 0.77 GAA in 4 games to help Russia to a silver medal. Later that year, he was named to the Russia’s senior team for the 2000 World Championships, where he played in 4 games, but failed to reach the podium. Two years later, he competed for Russia at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City earning bronze. Playing in a backup position, Bryzgalov did not appear in any games. He played in a more expanded role, however, at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, playing in 240 minutes and recording a 2.34 GAA in 3 games. Bryzgalov received his first international gold medal at the 2009 World Championships, beating Canada in the final.


Ilya and his wife, Yevgeniya have a daughter, Valery and son, Vladislav. The family lives in Yorba Linda. He spent five summers attending college in Russia, where he earned his degree, allowing him to teach and coach in Russian school. He reads books and enjoys studying philosophy. He did not emulate anyone in particular as a young goalie, instead focusing on being the best he could be. He has a white siberian husky which he has described as “basically a hot girl”.

Having been known to have a somewhat odd personality, he earned a lot of attention for his appearance in the first episode of 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic.

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