|Jonathan Bernier (photo: D. Sheehan)|
The long-rumored and highly speculated goaltending controversy in Los Angeles never really developed last season.
Then, Jonathan Bernier started off slowly when given a few chances in the early part of the schedule. Once the second half rolled around though, he posted very strong numbers, including a 4-0-1 stretch in March.
So, Murray surprised some people in the days before the playoffs when he proclaimed that Bernier would not even be considered for post-season play. Quick was going to play every minute of every game. Period. Although it was probably more like ‘exclamation point!’
After splitting the first two games with the Sharks in their opening round series, the Kings were up 4-0 in game three and then collapsed on home ice – eventually losing 6-5 in overtime. Many saw it as an opportunity for Bernier to sneak into a game, either that night or in game four. It never happened.
Six nights later the Sharks won the series and summer was officially underway for the Kings players.
A few days ago, Bernier left for France. His brother plays hockey over there and the two will be training and spending time together for the next week. Before he headed overseas though, I spoke with him about the whole situation described above and a few more things, including trade rumors…
– On reasons for his better play in the second half: “Playing more and getting comfortable with the team, where you live and the environment you’re in. Those were the reasons why I probably started feeling really confident in net and why it probably showed in my stats.”
– On Murray saying Quick would get all the post-season action: “Obviously Quick was tremendous all year for us. For me, it was just…you can’t control that. So, if Terry was going to give me a chance to play, I would just do my best. I wasn’t there to complain. I was just there to help the team and support Quick.”
– On any conversations that may have taken place with Murray or goaltending coach Bill Ranford about him getting a chance while the series was going on: “Nope, not at all. It didn’t happen.”
– On his exit interview: “I never had the chance to get one because I had to leave for the World Championships right away. When I came back in town, they were all gone. So, I never had the chance to talk with them.” (note: those conversations have since taken place)
– On the Kings using their first pick in this year’s draft to take another goalie: “I don’t really pay attention too much. I think it’s a good thing for the Kings organization. It’s a good value. If a goalie can play the way he’s supposed to, and become a good goalie, I think it’s an asset that can be traded later. You can’t really worry about that though. It’s part of the business.”
– On his name popping up in trade rumors: “I’ve never heard that before.”
(we laughed quite a bit and then he continued…)
“Obviously, I’ve heard several rumors, like the one about me going to Colorado. But, those are things I can’t really control. My goal is to play as much as I can no matter where I play – hopefully it will be here though. As a personal goal, it’s to play more and to get my chance.”
– On the Jeff Zatkoff vs. Martin Jones situation back in Manchester: “I (recently) talked with Jones and Zats and I was really happy for them. They both had a great season in Manch. I think in the playoffs it could have gone either way, they went to game seven. Like I told Zatkoff, I was kind of in the same situation two years ago. You want to get called up. But, you see that both goalies are doing well (with the Kings). So I told him, your chance is going to come and when it does, you have to take it.”
– On his mask designs for the upcoming season: “I’m probably going with the same thing. I might be working with an artist here in Los Angeles for a cool design. He’d like to do something special with one of my helmets. That’s not for sure yet. My regular one will probably be the same design that I had last year though – but, with black, white and silver (due to the jersey changes).”
There will be more in this summer vacation series in the weeks to come. Until then, please check out some of the links below.
Talking trade rumors with Bernier – February 2012
Bernier on coach Murray’s goaltending plans – October 2011