VOORHEES, N.J. (AP) - Ilya Bryzgalov already has a fan club. Wearing his Flyers jersey and cap, he finished a press conference and left to mingle with autograph seekers and picture snappers waiting for the All-Star goaltender at the bottom of the stairs.
On his way back up, a woman hollered, “You look fabulous!”
An orange crush has already developed and Bryzgalov hasn’t even played a game yet.
The Flyers sure think he looked great in that No. 30 orange sweater as they showed off the goalie for the first time since he was acquired in June from Phoenix. Bryzgalov was an instant hit with the fans Thursday _ and he’ll be an even bigger one if he can become the netminder that brings the Stanley Cup back to Philadelphia for the first time since 1975.
“This is a team with rich history,” Bryzgalov said. “The highest goal is to win the Cup. That’s what this game is all about. That’s all that matters.”
Bryzgalov participated in a light workout with Danny Briere and a handful of teammates as the offseason winds down and the Sept. 17 start date for training camp looms. He knows the Flyers are counting on him to be as durable and successful as he was his last few seasons with Phoenix. Bryzgalov was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2009-10, and went 36-20-10 with a 2.48 goals-against average and seven shutouts last season.
His contract demands made him expendable and the Flyers pounced. They acquired his rights, then signed him to a $51 million, nine-year deal to kick off a summer of change. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dan Carcillo were among the veterans jettisoned out of town to make room for Bryzgalov and a slew of new, young players.
Bryzgalov understands expectations are Stanley Cup or bust.
“I never put the pressure on myself,” he said. “I know my job. I know what I have to do.”
Bryzgalov quickly endeared himself in Philadelphia with a humorous Twitter feed that found the city’s newest citizen asking where he should live. As rain pounded the building and tried to drown out his press conference, Bryzgalov quipped that Philadelphia reminded him of Russia.
He could add some needed levity to a locker room during a grueling season.
Asked how the media turnout was compared to Phoenix, he joked about it.
“There’s much more of you here,” he said, “and you look better.”
He coughed as pulled on his jersey and cracked, “I’ve got to quit smoking.”
Bryzgalov then, seriously, amended the statement by saying he doesn’t drink.