NHL NEWS: Bryzgalov bought out; Tortorella brought in; Berglund re-signed; Kipper to retire?
A few more items of interest have emerged over the last day or so. Let’s take a look; all stories as per TSN.
ILYA BRYZGALOV BOUGHT OUT FOR $23M
Ilya Bryzgalov, the much maligned goalie now formerly of Philadelphia, has been bought out of his massive contract with the Flyers; coupled with the buyout of Daniel Briere, this means the Flyers have used both of their amnesty buyouts already, reportedly saving them $12m over the next couple of seasons.
Bryzgalov signed with the Flyers in 2011 to a huge $51m contract over 9 years. Eyebrows were raised, but Bryzgalov was coming off a very successful tenure in Phoenix, and it was hoped that he could be the cure to Philadelphia’s long-running goaltending woes. However, “Bryz” struggled with form and with the mental aspect of playing for a team with such rabid fans and media, often clashing with the latter, causing even harsher words to be said about him.
His play on the ice is what matters however, and unfortunately for him it didn’t go well. In 99 games as a Flyer, he had 52 wins, a 2.635 GAA and a o.905 SV%, not terrible statistics, but certainly not good enough for a starting goalie either. This is of course ignoring the fact that in his time in the City of Brotherly Love, the Flyers have had a pretty mediocre defence playing in front of him. If Chris Pronger had been able to play, it might have made a bit of a difference, but the Flyers didn’t have that one stud defender who plays in all situations and settles everyone else down. Particularly galling for Bryzgalov was the 2012 playoffs, where both he and his counterpart in Pittsburgh suffered meltdowns of epic proportions, and although Philly won the series, they were knocked out in the second round with Bryzgalov not performing much better, ending up with a 3.46 GAA and 0.887 SV% – awful numbers any way you cut it.
The Flyers will be moving on now, trying to find that elusive starting goalie (hint: it’s not Steve Mason), and whilst they’ll enjoy not having Bryzgalov’s massive contract on their cap roll, they still have to pay him $23m over the next FOURTEEN YEARS. That, ladies and gentleman, is the largest buyout in NHL history. Yes, bigger than Yashin’s.
Well done, Philadelphia, well done. Paul “LOLmgren” is really starting to become more and more apt.
JOHN TORTORELLA HIRED BY VANCOUVER
In an amusing twist, the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks have decided to play Coach Swap. With former head coach Alain Vigneault signing in the Big Apple last week, the Canucks decided the best remaining coaching candidate on the market for their team was the Rangers former coach, John Tortorella.
Holding the head coach title in New York since the end of the 08/09 season, Tortorella had a 171-115-29 record in 315 games, as well as making the playoffs in all but one of those seasons, with their best season coming in 2011/12 when they won the Atlantic Division for the first time since 1993/94 and made it to the Conference Finals. Tortorella deployed a fairly extreme defensive style, taking advantage of the Rangers’ talent on the backend and in net, but not really allowing their not inconsiderable offensive talent to shine.
Vancouver, who have a far more balanced roster than New York, if a slightly older core, will hopefully be able to better deploy Tortorella’s systems; it will be interesting to see how that works out, but it will certainly be fun to see if the likes of the Sedins continue to receive extreme offensive zonestarts like they did under Vigneault.
On a fun sidenote, Tortorella’s introductory press conference was surprisingly open. He stated he wouldn’t be any less intense or hard on his players, that he had to be demanding, but that he had made quite a mess of his time in New York with regard to the media, and he hoped to clean up his image somewhat.
Don’t change, John, don’t change.
PATRIK BERGLUND RE-SIGNS WITH ST LOUIS
RFA forward Patrik Berglund has re-signed with the St Louis Blues on a one year contract for a reported $3.25m. At 25 years old, Berglund has 358 career NHL games so far, with 92 goals and 188 points, and emerging as a pretty capable goal scorer for a team that lacks offensive flair.
He’s not dominant offensively, but is more than capable, and combine that with his fine two-way play in all situations and you have a pretty useful forward. $3.25m sounds about right for someone of his calibre, but the Blues must hope he doesn’t “take-off” offensively this year or they might find themselves either having to deal him or having to pay him a lot more.
KIPRUSOFF HINTS AT RETIREMENT AGAIN
Miikka Kiprusoff, the veteran star goalie for the Calgary Flames, has once again hinted that he is retiring from the NHL. Reports from Finnish news agency STT-Lehtikuva suggest that he has told the Finnish national team he won’t be returning to the NHL, and that it’s essentially not up to him to announce it.
“Kipper” previously hinted at retirement prior to the trade deadline, when he refused to waive his no-trade clause for family reasons.
At 36, he has had a wonderful career, but is beginning to slow down – it’s probably the best thing for all concerned if he moves on, as he gets to preserve his legacy (i.e. won’t be remembered as an aging bum) and teams don’t spend a lot of money on a goalie who’s skills aren’t what they used to be.
If and when this announcement becomes official, IceNationUK will of course have a full retrospective on Kiprusoff’s magnificent career.