When Dean Lombardi was named the new general manager of the Los Angeles Kings in 2006, he went into that summer’s draft with a new five-year plan in place. His first selection was the 11th overall pick and he chose goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Upon being drafted, not many had heard much of Bernier but this was Lombardi’s first impression and he knew he had to make good on it.
A native of Laval, Quebec, Bernier made his NHL debut when the Kings began their 2007-08 season in London, England for a double-bill against Anaheim. Bernier looked good in both games but last just two more before being sent back to his junior team in Lewiston, Maine.
After spending the previous two seasons in Manchester, Bernier finally got the promotion he’d be waiting for as he served as the full-time backup to Jonathan Quick in 2010-11. Bernier was called up for three games in 2009-10 where he went 3-0 with a shutout but last season was really his time to make an impression.
Bernier played fairly well to open the season but had his struggles along the way as any young goaltender would. In 25 games this past season, the 22-year-old posted an 11-8-3 record with 2.48 goals-against average, a .913 save-percentage while collecting three shutouts.
Jonathan Bernier provided great relief to Quick, which was just what he needed after getting burned out for being so overworked in 2009-10. Prior to the start of the 2010-11 season, it was rumoured that there would be a battle for the #1 spot between Quick and Bernier. Unfortunately for Bernier, Quick’s exceptional play put that rumour to bed fairly quickly.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how next season will be for Bernier or even Quick for that matter. If Bernier enters training camp with enough momentum, he may be the #1 guy in Los Angeles before long. Stranger things have happened but considering Bernier’s ability and talent, don’t count out that possibility just yet.