There's never a dull moment when it comes to Ilya Bryzgalov. Last week, he called the Philadelphia media "purely unprofessional" in a Russian language interview. The week prior, he did essentially the same thing to their faces.
Bryz on who could be the Flyers mascot: "I know but I won’t say. Because North American jmedia may translate. I won’t say anything bad."— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) May 15, 2013
And then he talked about how he thinks positively of Joseph Stalin.
All journalists try to interview you. And is there a person who you would like to talk to?
"A lot of them are not alive anymore... I would love to talk to Genghis Khan, Stalin, Einstein."
Stalin is a very controversial figure. How do you feel about him?
"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."
Stalin took Russia in with a wooden plow and left it with nuclear weapons.
"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. Not long ago in the US a person was released from prison, who spent 45 years there. It turned out he was innocent. Can you imagine, a person spent his entire life in jail for something he didn't do."
I don't know a damn thing about the cultural significance of Stalin, his regime or Stalinism generally in Russia. At the very least, opinion of Stalin and his rule in Russia seems to be mixed.
I've generally been a defender of Bryzgalov -- the rare athlete who's both open with the media and also their scapegoat -- but, well, you're on your own this time buddy.