Bryzgalov responds to Flyers contract buyout

Philadelphia Flyers' Ilya Bryzgalov (30), of Russia, makes a save on a shot by Phoenix Coyotes' Shane Doan (19) during the first period in an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
June 26, 2013 8:31:48 AM PDT
Calling the decision to sign Ilya Bryzgalov two years ago a "costly mistake," the Philadelphia Flyers will buy out the remainder of the goalie's hefty contract.

The move made Tuesday saves the team nearly $6 million under the salary cap for each of the next seven years. Bryzgalov was two seasons into a $51 million, nine-year contract he signed in 2011.

"Obviously it's a costly mistake that we made," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "You know Ilya, it's hard to fault him. I still believe he played pretty good, but in a salary-cap world, you need to make decisions from time to time that put you in a better light moving forward and this is one of those."

Bryzgalov responded to the move in a statement released Wednesday, which reads:

"As my family and I move forward to meet the new challenges ahead, I could not leave Philadelphia without publicly thanking Mr. Snider for the faith he showed in me when he committed to the long term contract that has secured my family's financial future and acknowledging his passion for the game of hockey. Jeniya and I really appreciate his faith in me and what he has done for our family. Mr. Snider has an amazing energy for the deals he does and for winning. Hockey fans in this area should consider themselves lucky to have the team they cheer for led by a man who is as passionate about winning and doing whatever it takes to win as Flyers' fans are. Getting to know Mr. Snider, has been a great experience. To see his passion for this game has been inspiring.

I am grateful for teammates, to management and fans for the support I felt from so many of them through some very dark days and difficult situations. I have made many friends here - on the team, in the organization, among the media and throughout the community. Don't ever think that I didn't appreciate the kind comments of support made in the media by teammates and management and in private by so many very nice people I met on the streets of Philadelphia and in the surrounding area.

I appreciate this experience more than many of you will know. I will learn from it. I have always said that a heavy sword makes a very strong arm. I intend to take this experience with me to my new team, to help me be stronger - a better player and, hopefully, a better person. At the end of the day, that is the challenge we all need to wrestle with.

I look forward to the bright future ahead, but will never forget my time with the Philadelphia Flyers. For this time and this experience, I am grateful. "

Last week, the Flyers exercised the first of their two compliance buyouts on forward Danny Briere.

Bryzgalov was 52-33-10 with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage in the regular season for Philadelphia, which failed to make the playoffs this year.

"What's the sense of looking back? Today we look forward," Holmgren said. "I'm not going to look back. I admit it was a costly move, but we have to move forward. No sense looking back."

Bryzgalov's quirky personality and sometimes brutal honesty with the media didn't always endear him to teammates. But the Flyers say that didn't factor into this decision.

"I think Ilya is a colorful guy," Holmgren said. "Does he say things out of the blue sometimes? Absolutely, but I don't think he's any different than a lot of other players I have been associated with. I didn't have an issue with that. This is strictly a business decision."

The Flyers acquired former NHL Rookie of the Year Steve Mason from Columbus before the trade deadline to back up Bryzgalov. Mason went 4-2 with a 1.90 goals-against average and .940 save percentage for the Flyers.

Mason will likely compete for the starting job with a goalie currently outside the Philadelphia organization.

"We're in the market for goalies," Holmgren said. "How we do it, remains to be seen. There's options out there right now and we'll go at it the best way we can."


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