Friday, July 13, 2012

Is Bernier Really Hurting His Rep by Asking to Be Traded?

So Tony Gallagher of The Province has used his blog today to talk about Jonathan Bernier and how his trade request becoming public is hurting his reputation.

Kings' Bernier doing himself no favours with trade request

By Tony Gallagher, Postmedia NewsJuly 12, 2012

Now that Jonathan Bernier's trade request has been made public, the young L.A. Kings goaltender likely severely hampered his own less-than-spectacular trade value for more than the obvious reasons.

Not only has it been announced to one and all that he wants to leave, he's also cast some aspersions on his own character by wanting to leave a championship team immediately after its success, because he can't see himself playing enough behind Jonathan Quick. 
Really? I disagree. First, other GMs are going to see an 11th overall pick who was proclaimed the future franchise goalie and did his time in juniors and the American League but got stuck behind a guy (Quick) who was simply unwilling to give up the crease and played too damn well for the Kings to take it from him and then led the team to its first ever Stanley Cup championship.
Second, I think everyone around the league knows that Bernier was a good solider all season, never complaining about his lack of ice time (at least, not publicly, which is all anyone outside the Kings would know about). Finally, it makes sense that he would ask for a trade. He was drafted six years ago, excelled in the minors, and has backed up in the NHL for two years. The team has committed to Quick for ten years, and even if something happens in that time, they have several other goalie prospects waiting in the wings. Even if Quick got hurt for an extended period, the crease would belong to Bernier only as long as Quickie was out of the lineup; no matter how well Bernier played, Jonathan Quick would return to the starter's job immediately.

Kings fans might like the security of having an outstanding prospect like Bernier continue to back Quick up, but the fact of the matter is that he has outgrown that role. He wants a chance to be a starting goalie, a job he can never have in Los Angeles now. Rather than cast aspersions on his character, I believe it shows that he is a guy who wants to excel and earn himself a crease of his own in the NHL. He is someone who wants to get traded and work to show that he can do the same things Quick can, and maybe even better. If I'm a GM of a team with goalie issues (a bad starter or an aging one), that's a blue chip prospect I wanna get my hands on.

Bernier isn't requesting a trade because he's a bad team player. He is doing so because he is too good at this stage of his career to be a back-up.

It indicates he has no sense of patience or development. It indicates he wants to rush himself into a starting position, apparently forgetting that goaltenders now can play into their 40s if they keep themselves in great physical condition. 
No sense of patience and development? I might have agreed with that sentiment four years ago when he complained about being sent to the AHL after completing his junior career, but through his efforts to improve in Manchester and his quiet workmanlike attitude the last two seasons backing Quick up, he has demonstrated that he realizes he wasn't ready before, but has come a long way in his development since being drafted.

And the idea that "goaltenders now can play into their 40s" is preposterous. Why, because Marty Brodeur got to the Finals at age 40? That is one goalie in the entire league having success at age 40. Oh, well I guess Roloson did all right last year too, but he fell apart this season. Tim Thomas may play into his early 40s, but that head case may also be done already. The idea that an athlete should plan to have a career stretching into their 40s is just plain silly. Sure, it's possible, but it's incredibly unlikely. And try talking to any 24-year-old about life in their 40s anyway. They are living for today.

And it indicates he's learned nothing from the Cory Schneider example in Vancouver, where that young guy started out behind the invincible Roberto Luongo and was brought along in such a patient way that he's now ready to assume the starting position. 
Oh, I see now, this was actually all just a way to get around to talking about the Canucks and how wonderful Cory Schneider is. How transparent.

Besides, you don't know that Schneider is ready to assume the starting role. You think and hope he is, but the fact is he has never played more than 33 games in an NHL season, so while he has put up decent numbers in a few games, you don't actually know how he is going to perform with the weight of an entire season on his shoulders, especially in a market like Vancouver. He could very well fold under the pressures!

Oh, and the funniest thing of all about that comparison is that Schneider's "slow and patient development" behind Luongo has lasted all of two seasons. He has been the Canucks' back-up exactly as long as Bernier has been the Kings' but got handed the starting job in the playoffs this year because Luongo faltered (well, really because the Canucks played like shit in front of him and he did his best but it wasn't enough against the Kings). Bernier is never going to get an opportunity like that. Even when Quick has faltered (e.g., the 2010 and 2011 playoffs) there was never any thought in management's mind of going to Bernier to replace him. Do you honestly think the situation with Luongo and Schneider was going to play out any differently had the Canucks not given the crease to Schneider this spring? If Luongo was still firmly entrenched as the Vancouver starter, then Schneider would have been the one looking for a trade. For instance, if Vancouver had won that first round series (HA!) and then the Cup, I imagine Mr. Gallagher would be talking about how Schneider should be following the example of, oh I don't know, someone like Bernier who understands patient development.

For the entire blog post, go to

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