DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji took note of the comments made by Mike Green, Thomas Vanek, Jonathan Bernier and Ken Holland on the players and GM’s respective conference calls this afternoon, and Wakiji also spoke with Red Wings goaltending coach Jeff Salajko regarding the team’s decision to go with Bernier as Jimmy Howard’s back-up:
“I feel he got Colorado into the playoffs last year, I think he won nine in a row in that winning streak, year before did it with Anaheim when (John) Gibson went down,” Salajko said. “I’m not viewing him as a backup goalie, whether we’re talking about a 1-B, this is a guy that can give you 30 to 40 games. A lot of backups are more in the 20-25 range, maybe more. He wants to play. Everybody that I’ve talked to, the coaches, the players, said he’s a worker and he will work and he’s a great teammate. That’s kind of what we need.”
Salajko said Howard is also a hard worker and now the two netminders will be able to have a friendly competition for playing time.
“Now you got two guys that are going to push each other,” Salajko said. “Jimmy will embrace it, I know that. We had to sign another goalie, we wanted to get the best one out there. Jonathan Bernier was the best goalie on the free agent market. Carter Hutton’s a nice goalie, he’s right there, but we feel like we got the best one. I’m excited to work with him. We talked for 20 minutes (the other day), he sounds like a real pro. He’s excited to get here and find a house and whatnot. I just think it gives us a little stability and depth in net. Maybe we don’t have to play Jimmy Howard 60 games this year, maybe it’s 50. The season will dictate that with these guys’ play and their health.