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The NHL lost a lot of personality when Ilya Bryzgalov didn’t return for the 2015-16 season. After last playing Feb. 10, 2015, the netminder sat out the rest of that season and went unsigned over the summer.
But now Bryz wants back in, as he told Chris Lomon of NHLPA.com.
“I feel the passion inside and the fire in my eyes. I want to face new challenges and I want the chance to play in the best league.”
“When I told my son I was looking to play in the NHL again, his eyes lit up,” said the 35-year-old, who is currently an unrestricted free agent. “He was so excited. Now he’s older and he understands the game more. It would be great if he could watch me play again, maybe to learn some things that can help him.”
Bryz is now 35 and has made only 36 NHL starts since the 2013-14 season but says the year off has recharged his batteries. He’d come cheap, as agent Ritch Winter told Lomon that his client would take a bonus-heavy deal with a “modest” salary to get another opportunity to play in the league again.
“Having worked with (Hall of Fame netminder) Dominik Hasek on his return after a year off and knowing the training Ilya has in place for the summer, there is no doubt in my mind he will perform at the level he did leading the Wild to the playoffs two years ago,” Winter said.
There are certainly NHL teams who need help in goal this summer, but would any take a chance on a 35-year-old who hasn’t played in two seasons? If so, Bryz will probably have to prove himself through a training camp tryout deal.
“I see it as a fresh start, Bryzgalov said. “I feel like I’m 21 again and just coming into the NHL. I have a hunger to play and to face the challenges that come with playing in this league. I’ve been missing that.”
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