The jury is in. Turns out, Ilya Bryzgalov is not a complex, misunderstood Russian.
He's just a dumb one.
Hopefully, for the sake of that nation and, indeed, the world, one of its dumbest.
In case you missed it, Bryz stole a page out of Ozzie Guillen's playbook the other day, answering a question about notorious Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin by saying, ``I see logic in his action.''
Stalin executed at least 3 million and perhaps as many as 60 million from 1921 until his death in 1953.
So this does not become yet another Philadelphia media thing, here's the transcript as translated by Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy:
Q: Stalin is a very controversial figure. How do you feel about him?
A: Positive. I see logic in his action. Not without going too far, of course. But he came to power in a country that had just lived through a revolution. There were so many spies, enemies, traitors there. A lot of people still had guns after the civil war. The country was in ruins, [people] needed to survive somehow. The country needed to be rebuilt, and in order to do that it needed to be held in iron hands. Then WWII began. A lot of people came back from that war with guns as well. There was devastation all around, the country had to be rebuilt, had to be able to defend itself. There were so many criminals."
Q: Stalin took Russia in with a wooden plow and left it with nuclear weapons.
A: "Yes, he knew what he was doing. He is described as a 'bloody tyrant.' But at the time it couldn't be any other way. Yes, there were innocent people who were victims of repressions… But it happens.''
There are over three million documented executions from Stalin's regime, but historians have estimated as much as 60 million people may have died over the period from 1921 to his death in 1953. Besides millions of undocumented executions, families starved by the millions in a famine that was enflamed by Stalin's collectivision and thousands more died in exodus forced by ethnic deportation.
Yet whether it is based in ignorance or a distance of time, Bryz's indifference is not nearly as offensive to Russians as when Ozzie declared his ``love'' for Fidel Castro in a Time Magazine article last spring. Polls taken over the last decade have revealed an alarming percentage of Russians with views similar to Bryz's. A controversial 2006 poll indicated over 35 percent of Russians would vote for Stalin if he were alive then. Another poll a year later of Russian youth found that more than half believed he did more good than bad and that he was a wise leader.
Now 34, Bryz is no Russian youth. It also is becoming crystal clear that, regardless of whether he is speaking English or Russian, he has an incessant need to draw negative attention to himself, then paint himself as a victim of irresponsible media. Speaking to Chesnokov and another Russian reporter late last week, Bryz rewrote his own history, painting himself as someone trying to educate an ignorant camera crew with his dissertation on monkeys in space.
I believe I started the whole cosmonaut/astronaut discussion, well before the 24/7 camera crew picked up on it. One day we were just standing around waiting for Peter Laviolette and he and I were just talking about non-hockey things. I often ask professional athletes what they might have been if not this, and Bryz answered that he was interested in space and probably something in that realm, maybe even a cosmonaut. He then offered all the stuff about dogs and monkeys pushing the wrong buttons and he was clearly trying to entertain. So much that I didn't write any of it. He even got in a bunch of digs at the American way of life that day, which we accepted good-naturedly.
He is his own victim. Period. And because he fancies himself much smarter than he really is, he will continue to be. Anyone who watched 24/7 understood how much he invited and craved the attention, at least until his play became affected by it. Bryz is all about Bryz, always has been, and if he could stop pucks for a whole season the way that pain in the ass Dominik Hasek used to, then it might be worth it to keep him around.
He can't, which is one reason his teammates waved him goodbye so enthusiastically in Phoenix. My guess is they would do the same here.
Bryz has never learned that less is more and never will.