Leaving for Las Vegas wasn't so easy for Ilya Bryzgalov. It was well-documented that Bryzgalov had issues playing in Philadelphia for Ed Snider's Flyers. Bryzgalov, who signed a tryout agreement with the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers, is still floating around in the Delaware Valley.
"I really like it here," Bryzgalov said after recently coaching his son Vladislav's Jaguars against the Hatfield Ice Dogs. "Otherwise, we would have left."
Bryzgalov's son wears number 30, just like his father and even sported his dad's Flyers mask. Bryzgalov, the assistant coach of the Jags, kept his team loose prior to their recent Mite Jamboree game at Aston's Iceline rink.
Bryzgalov ignored the array of teen hockey players lining the glass and videotaping his every move. Bryzgalov's son was one of the most impressive goalies at the Jamboree. After every save he made, and every goal he gave up, his father smiled and patted him on his shoulder.
My son Milo found the back of the net against Bryz Jr. After the game I said to him, 'You scored on Bryzgalov.'
"No, I didn't," Milo said. "I scored on Bryzgalov's son. Bryzgalov is so big, how could anyone score on him?"
That led to a long discussion about five-hole goals. In the locker room, Young Bryz was singing and he asked Milo if he liked music.
"Sure, I just wrote a song called 'Bucket of Blood,'" Milo said.
"Does that sound anything like my favorite song, 'We Are The Champions,'" Vladislav Bryzgalov asked.
I couldn't help but ask how he knew the Queen song. "It's on my dad's Ipod," he said. "He plays it all of the time."
Interesting, considering that Bryzgalov never heard the Queen classic at the arena. Bryzgalov will just go down as a well-compensated footnote in Flyers history, but he was warm and funny with the Ice Dogs. His quirky humor hasn't changed.
"Great game number 88," Bryzgalov said to Milo. "Now let me ask a question, are you a member of the Ice Hogs?"
"I love this," Bryzgalov said. "It's fun teaching the kids about hockey. This is the time when they can learn and make mistakes. We all know when we get older and play this game, you can't make the mistakes. Now is a good time for the kids. It's good to be here with them and watch them develop."
Bryz is taking a break from Mite hockey to sharpen his skills in Sin City hoping for another chance in the NHL. The odds are that some goalies will get hurt and others will be ineffective, and Bryz will return to the NHL. When that happens he'll still be on the Flyers' payroll making $1.64 million for the next 14 years.