Is the old, crazy Ilya Bryzgalov back? He’s testing the Oilers coach

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By Kristin Tullo (@K_Tullo)

Ilya Bryzgalov is many things, but you would be hard pressed to find a player in the National Hockey League that would say a good teammate is one of them.

The Edmonton Sun reported this week that the same goaltender that made more foes than friends in his Phoenix days and stole show in Philadelphia with his bizarre thoughts is really testing his new head coach, Dallas Eakins, as well as the guys in Edmonton Oilers locker room.

In a December tilt against his former Flyers teammates- and the organization still paying him $23 million to never put on the Philly logo again- Bryzgalov lost his cool after Scott Hartnell tallied the tying goal in the dying minutes of the game by flipping his stick in the air.

While a broken stick in the hands of a defeated goalie wouldn’t turn many heads in the NHL, it’s almost a signal of what’s to come for Bryzgalov.

The emotions are rising and his stick-trick is just a gateway to a full on temper tantrum that he eventually will let out.

According to The Sun, Eakins has had conversations with the goalie in an attempt to nip his bad behavior in the bud. The pep talk  though, seems to have fallen on deaf ears and the body language battle rolls on.

Days after trying the talk that was supposed to settle down his goalie, Bryzgalov showed pure disgust with his defenseman when Phoenix tied the game in the dying minutes of regulation. The animated Russian threw up his hands and stared at his defenseman, as if to say, “Are you kidding me?”

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Getty Images

With his track record, it’s probably not the smartest thing to do.

“If you’re doing it at one of your teammates, that’s not a very good thing to do, because sooner or later you’re going to make a mistake and I’m fairly certain you’re not going to want your teammates doing that to you,” Eakins said.

Scottie Upshall, a former teammate of the animated goalie in Phoenix, knows better than anyone that Bryz can be a diva.

“There were a couple of incidents where he wasn’t happy with the way our team played in front of him and he did a few things that caused us to say something to him and put him in his place,” Upshall told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “ [He called us out] in not a very professional way.”

The attention Bryzgalov has gained in Edmonton is probably not the attention the 13-25-5 team had in mind when they brought him in.

But some guys never change, even if their career and reputation are on the line.

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