Jonathan Bernier doesn’t appear to have any hard feelings regarding his recent trade to the Anaheim Ducks.
The one-time starter for the Maple Leafs spoke with Eric Stephens of The Orange County Register where he had nothing but good things to say about his time in Toronto.
The 27-year-old will join a team in Anaheim that is looking to improve on a promising season that ended with a first-round loss to the Nashville Predators.
“Playing in Toronto, I had a real good experience,” said Bernier. “I had a lot of fun. But when you go through a rebuild it’s never easy.
“I’m going to a team that’s a Stanley Cup contender, and you’re feeling better coming into camp and knowing you have a great team in front of you.”
The move to Anaheim reunites the goaltender with his former coach in Toronto, Randy Carlyle. Bernier put up the best numbers of his career under Carlyle, finishing his first season as a Maple Leaf with a .923 save percentage and a 2.68 goals-against average in 55 games.
“Obviously I played for Randy when I first got to Toronto,” said Bernier. “Knowing him, he’s very detailed on how well he wants to play defensively. So I think it’s a great fit.”
“I had to gain his confidence when I got traded to Toronto, but we always got along well,” he said. “He’s a very detailed coach, and he demands a lot. That’s what you want from your coach.”
For all the criticism Carlyle receives for his teams’ lack of possession and his insistence on dressing enforcers, he does have a respectable track record with goalies as a head coach. Along with Bernier, both Jonas Hiller and James Reimer have had arguably the best seasons of their respective careers under the Ducks’ bench boss.
Bernier will almost certainly be the backup in Anaheim, with John Gibson likely to be given his first chance to show he can be the undisputed starter for a team. But the chance to have a fresh start with a club that finished the regular season atop the Pacific Division could be just what Bernier needs to rejuvenate his career.
“For me, I’m definitely very happy to come to the Ducks,” he said. “It seems like a really great organization.”