Red Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier was interviewed by the Journal de Montreal’s…Jonathan Bernier…for an article published on Friday. Here’s a rough translation of the French-language article:
Bernier wants to see more action
A fight is to be expected with goaltender Jimmy Howard in Detroit
In his first season in Detroit, Jonathan Bernier had to ride the brakes until getting the confidence of Jeff Blashill. Stuck behind Jimmy Howard, he had to wait until mid-February before taking his place in front of the Red Wings’ net more regularly.
Met a few days before leaving for the Motor City, Bernier spoke well of his coach.
“That’s what happens when you sign with a new team. The coach doesn’t know you, so it takes time for him to trust you,” he told de Journal. “You have to win so much in this league that it’s demanding, even for coaches. So if he doesn’t know you, he’ll go with someone he’s confident in.”
Blashill understandably had some reservations about the 31-year-old native of Laval, Quebec. The latter finished the season with a record of 9 wins, 18 losses and 5 OTL’s, with a goals-against average of 3.16 and a .904 save percentage.
Meanwhile, Howard kept a record of 23-22-and-5. However, his goals-against average (3.07) and save percentage (.909) were similar.
“I kept out the goals late when I started to see more action. At that point, we alternated,” says Bernier.
A good conversation
There are still two years left on the contract of the Quebec goaltender. Yes, he ended up seeing action in 35 games, which is similar to his workload in the previous three seasons. That didn’t prevent him from having a discussion with his coach at the end of the campaign.
“I had a good conversation with him. It’s certain that you have to ask to have the net more often,” he said.
However, he understands that he has to convince the boss.
“In the end, that’s the way I perform. If I play well, I can ask him for more playing time.”
For two seasons in Toronto, Bernier was the #1 goaltender. He had campaigns in which he saw action in 55 and 58 games. Would he like to take the #1 post from Howard and get closer to those numbers of games?
“It’s been long enough that I’ve been in the league that I’m fighting to both stay and even to be #1,” he said. “I don’t really care about the number of games that I play. I’m really demanding of myself and every day I work very hard.”
A third goaltender
Meanwhile, the Red Wings have followed what appears to be slowly becoming the norm on the “Bettman circuit”: ensuring that there is a third goaltender with some NHL experience on their sleeve.
On July 1st, they signed a 2-year contract with Calvin Pickard. The 27-year-old Pickard has played in 104 games in the NHL, including 50 in 2016-17 with the Colorado Avalanche.
“A goaltender is always an asset,” admitted Bernier. “If there’s an injury in training camp and you’re not badly taken. At the same time, it pushes everyone. You know there is another who can take your place.”
Not to mention that the contract of Howard, 35, was only renewed for one season. This is the perfect time for Bernier to prove himself.
“Why would we not be competitive?”
This may be a long winter in Detroit. Just about everyone agrees that the Red Wings will miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, and again, that they will flirt with the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, along with the Ottawa Senators.
Obviously, Jonathan Bernier doesn’t agree. The opposite would have been surprising.
“We finished the season 8-3-and-0. It helped our young people to mature and gain experience,” he said.
“We must not forget that during the first two months, we lost our top four defensemen,” he added.
Mike Green missed the first nine games of the season, and was sidelined for nearly a month starting in mid-December. Jonathan Ericsson played in only 6 of the team’s first 24 games. Danny DeKeyser had to forfeit 8 games in October and another 19 in December. Finally, Trevor Daley missed 38 games, including 9 of his first 30.
“For any team, it would have been a big hit. With everyone being healthy, I don’t see why we won’t be competitive.”
Having arrived at the general manager’s position at the end of last season, Steve Yzerman hasn’t been very active during the summer. He signed contracts with forward Valtteri Filppula, defenseman Patrik Nemeth and goaltender Calvin Pickard.
Not a big seller
“It’s hard to attract free agents when you finish almost last. It’s not a big seller,” says Bernier.
This is a great opportunity for Yzerman to give the youth of his organization the chance to flourish. And in Detroit, there will be several. Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Hronek and Michael Rasmussen are all 24 or under.
“We have good kids coming up and going to take the next step. They have to understand that it’s their team,” said Bernier.
Filip Zadina and company
Another group to watch will be added recruits Filip Zadina and Taro Hirose. Both had the chance to take part in a dozen games with the Red Wings toward the end of last season.
“The games they played will give them confidence. Zadina is a natural scorer. He’s got good poise and it always in the right place to be dangerous. Hirose helped us a lot at the end of the season. He’s a good young man.”
The passion of youth is an assist not to be neglected.”