Are Winnipeg Jets Fans Justified in Their Hatred for Ilya Bryzgalov?
Canada can be a sensitive country.
Any type of comparison with the United States can bring out a very competitive response from a significant segment of the Canadian population.
However, when the topic is hockey and any criticism is offered, Canadians tend to get hot and bothered.
The attitude is basically this: "How dare you say anything bad about us. We invented hockey."
That's basically true. Canadians invented the modern version of the game that may be the most exciting team sport on the face of the earth (source: birthplaceofhockey.com).
That should be be a point of pride and a given for Canadian fans. They do not need to respond to every slight or criticism, particularly when that criticism was made several years ago by a goalie who is known for his outrageous views on...everything.
At the time, that financially insecure franchise appeared to be ready to pack up and leave the desert. One of the locations that was being considered was Winnipeg, and that did not sit well with Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov said he would not go to Winnipeg if the team relocated there.
"You don't want to go to Winnipeg, right?" said Bryzgalov, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. "Not many people live there, not many Russian people there. Plus it's cold. There's no excitement except the hockey. No park, no entertaining for the families, for the kids. It's going to be tough life for your family.
"I've been there for just once, maybe twice, when I play in minors. It was really cold. I used the tunnels between the buildings to get to the arena. Because it was minus 40-something. Real cold."
Bryzgalov didn't become Public Enemy No. 1 in Winnipeg with his remarks, but it seems like he came close.
Fans despised that Bryzgalov did not paint Winnipeg in a way that would have made the Chamber of Commerce happy. However, he later apologized for his remarks.
"I'm pretty sure good people, beautiful people, live in Winnipeg," Bryzgalov told the Winnipeg Free Press. " I'm pretty sure there are passionate fans. I didn't mean it and I didn't want to offend anybody. Sincerely, I apologize if I offended anybody and fans in Canada and Winnipeg. I didn't mean it."
Winnipeg fans booed Bryzgalov lustily in February when he came to the city and led the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Jets.
It's time for the good folks of Winnipeg to forgive and forget.
Those fans had no reason to take Bryzgalov seriously in the first place. Anyone who saw HBO's 24-7 last year as the Flyers prepared for the Winter Classic knew Bryzgalov was out there with his views.
It's not as if the city had been condemned by a world leader.
The Flyers return to Winnipeg April 6 and that would be the time for Jets' fans to show some forgiveness to Bryzgalov.
The remarks were made more than two years ago in a fit of anger by a goalie given to outburst. He has apologized.
It's time to let it go.
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