Jonathan Bernier’s arrival in Toronto has meant a lot of talk over the Maple Leafs goaltending situation for the upcoming season, and head coach Randy Carlyle is already irritated by the discussion.
“The goaltending questions always annoy me,” said Carlyle, who along with many Leafs and alumni, hit the links at Rattlesnake Point in Milton, Ont., on Tuesday. “We added the goaltender based upon adding strength to the position. I don’t know how we can put it any simpler. Because we have a goalie (James Reimer) that’s played well for our hockey club that we like, we added another one. Does that push the other one out? I don’t think so in these situations.”
In the short training camp the Leafs held prior to last season, Carlyle let the play on the ice dictate who was going to get the nod in goal. It wasn’t an easy thing to do with no pre-season games. But based on some scrimmages and a few practices, the coach elected to go with Ben Scrivens to start the season. Reimer battled his way back and eventually took the undisputed starting spot, overcoming a knee injury as well as more criticism. He earned the right to take part in his first NHL playoffs and performed above average. Still the Leafs elected to acquire Bernier.
It is Bernier’s intention to be the No. 1 guy, and he’s carried that over by accidently parking in Carlyle’s spot at MasterCard Centre
"I don't have my number there so I figured I was going to take the first spot," Bernier laughed, as he's already spent a couple of days practising at the team's facility. "It's going to be a great battle between me and James, we have the same mindset. But for me, I'm ready to take my game to the next step and hopefully it's going to go my way."
Of course, Reimer feels differently.
"In my mind, I'd like to think that as the guy who brought them to the playoffs last year and hopefully bring the Cup for them here this year."
On paper neither goalie has a significant edge heading into camp. Reimer is the more experienced of the two, but Bernier didn't get a fair shake behind Jonathan Quick in L.A.
In 104 regular season games, Reimer has a 53-32-14-10 record with a 2.71 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and 10 shutouts. Bernier has appeared in 64 regular season games, posting a 29-20-6-6 record with a 2.36 GAA, .912 save percentage and six shutouts.
Buckle up. This battle will be watched carefully.