Dean Lombardi was very clear about his goals for the Kings after being hired as the team’s new General Manager in the spring of 2006. The mandate was simple, build from the net out. With that in mind, we’ll begin our Dev Camp 2012 preview series in the crease and work our way up to the forwards.
Sure, LA had taken Jonathan Quick in the third round of the 2005 NHL Draft, but beyond that the cupboard was fairly bare when Lombardi arrived. With players like Daniel Taylor (seventh round, 2004), Yutaka Fukufuji (eighth round, 2004) and Matt Zaba (eighth round, 2003) rounding out the prospects he inherited, there was clearly a shortage of high-end goaltending prospects in the Kings system.
Lombardi went right to work, nabbing Jonathan Bernier in the first round just a few months after joining the organization and picking up Jeff Zatkoff two rounds later. He took another goalie the following year and then drafted Jean-Francois Berube in the fourth round of the 2009 Draft.
Berube has flown a little under the prospect radar at times, largely due to all the attention given to Bernier and the play of undrafted free agent Martin Jones. Yet, people shouldn’t sleep on Berube. Like Quick, he started his pro career in the ECHL last season. Prior to that, he was one of the top netminders in the Quebec junior league. However, following a deep playoff run with his Montreal team in 2011, Berube had hip surgery. That set him back a bit and his first few months with the Ontario Reign last fall were a little slow. His second-half numbers were impressive though and he looked more like the goalie he was in junior hockey. After not being able to compete in on-ice drills at last year’s Dev Camp, he’s more than ready to go this time around…
MM: First off, how are you feeling?
JFB: I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in over the last couple of years I think, even before the surgery. I feel awesome. It’s good to train being healthy and I’m trying to improve as much as I can.
MM: How much time off did you take after the season ended?
JFB: I tried to stay off the ice as much as possible, just to make sure I was getting enough rest for the hip. But, I was pretty much back in the gym in less than a month. It was good to be off the ice though and doing other things for a bit.
MM: What else have you been up to this summer?
JFB: I’ve spent a lot of time at the cottage, it’s a house by the lake. I’ve been doing some surfing with my friends – and golfing, of course.
MM: Surfing at the lake?
JFB: Yeah, behind a boat. Boat surfing. It’s nothing too dangerous (he laughs). We’re going pretty slow, no worries there.
MM: Any thoughts on Jonathan Quick’s extension and what that might mean for you in the pecking order?
JFB: First of all, I’m really happy for him. I think he deserves it. He’s an awesome goalie. On the other side, you see that you’ll have to work harder to make it there. But, I’m just trying to focus on my things and we’ll see what happens in the next couple of years. For now, it’s just about me focusing on next season.
MM: With Zatkoff signing in Pittsburgh, it looks like you’ll likely be heading to Manchester.
JFB: My goal for next year is to move up to the next level. I’ve been working hard in the gym to become stronger and I’ve been on the ice a little. So, I just want to get ready to face that new objective head on.
MM: During the Kings deep run to the Stanley Cup, how closely were you paying attention?
JFB: I was watching every game on the edge of my chair, just wishing for them to win it. Everyone knows how hard it is to get there. So, I really wanted to watch that moment and try to be part of it – even if I couldn’t be in LA. I was watching it on TV and trying to take it all in. I also know Bernier a little bit. So, I wishing good things for him. Although he wasn’t in net, it’s still a big trophy and it’s a big accomplishment.
MM: Any final thoughts as you get ready for Dev Camp to kick off?
JFB: I just want to prove myself again. I’m a competitive goalie and I’ve been improving a lot. So, I just want to show what I’m capable of. I’m really anxious to come to camp and get things going.
Berube has been a guest on MayorsManor a number of times though the years. Down below we’ve included links to a few of his visits – including talk of his nickname, his goalie fight last season, his beautiful mask and more.
You can also get a full look at the roster for this year’s Development Camp by clicking here.