Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov refused to talk to reporters during the team's postseason media day Thursday, but he candidly told a Russian newspaper he was fed up with the scrutiny he was under during his first year with the club.
"What I lived through this season I wouldn't wish to an enemy," he said to reporter Natalia Bragilevskaya of SovSport. ". . . I need to keep working. I understand the fans. They paid their money and want the show. But many forget that we are not robots, but living people. We have feelings, worries."
Bryzgalov had an up-and-down first season with the Flyers, and he allowed a brutal goal - it proved to be the game-winner - as the Flyers were eliminated by New Jersey, 3-1, in Game 5 of the conference semifinals Tuesday.
"I got very tired this season, to be honest," he said. ". . . Now I know what it's like to be a goaltender in Philadelphia. Maybe from the outside it looks like there's nothing to it. You only realize it on your own."
On the whole, Bryzgalov played well in the New Jersey series.
"It's easy to turn away when the club is going through tough times," he said. "But if you're wearing orange sweaters, then support Philadelphia until the very end! Don't denounce your team. There won't be a different one. And I know that the Flyers have dedicated fans who understand hockey and will always support."
Bryzgalov said he gained "invaluable experience" this season that was "difficult to describe with words. It is a psychology, a new view on life."
Asked about the scrutiny he was under in Philadelphia, Bryzgalov said, "It is difficult" and that "my face is everywhere. Everyone is talking about me. 'Bryzgalov played well,' 'Philadelphia won, but Bryz made a mistake again,' 'Yes, he wasn't scored against but could have been'. . . Guys, but who doesn't make mistakes? And how many [pucks] did I catch before then? But very few notice that. People are so concentrated on the negative that they only see the bad in me. But I think you need to be kinder to each other."
Bryzgalov, who has eight years left on a $51 million deal, said he has never considered asking to be traded.
"I will not give in when facing difficulties," he said. "I have eight more years to work under my contract with Philadelphia. If I am criticized, then I will endure it. You can't tie up people's tongues. It is their right to let the emotions go."
Bryzgalov said he wanted to make sure the fans knew he wasn't being critical of them.