Stoney Point - September 16, 2013 - Jonathan Bernier has a Stanley Cup ring from his time with the Los Angeles Kings. Growing up in Laval, Bernier would have experienced the attention that the media and fans give to the Montreal Canadiens, however he is now the likely number one goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs, in a city often described as the best hockey market in the league.
Tonight, Bernier gets his first start in Blue and White and with that start he will officially be welcomed underneath the NHL’s most intense microscope.
Bernier played his junior hockey in Lewiston, Maine – population 36,592. He had stint in the AHL in Manchester, New Hampshire – population 109,565. Combine those two markets together and they are still smaller than many OHL markets like London, Windsor, and Kitchener.
While interest in hockey has grown in Los Angeles, he was hardly exposed to a media pressure cooker as the back-up goalie on the Kings. All that changes tonight, as the Leafs take on the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre.
There has been a great deal of chatter in Toronto about the looming goaltender battle between James Reimer and Bernier. I may be wrong on this one, but if GM Dave Nonis felt that Reimer was a true number one – would he have traded for Bernier?
My prediction is that the Leafs will continue this “goalie dance” for the first couple weeks of the season, but in the end – Bernier will emerge as the guy. Number 45’s career has changed a great deal in the last few months, as he will now play much more often and be scrutinized like never before.
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