“[Jonathan]’s a pro, he certainly understands why,” Toronto general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “Any time you make that type of a phone call, you always make a second phone call after because the player’s thinking about what just happened. He’s been a solid individual since the day I got here. We couldn’t feel more comfortable with him as a person and what he did for us. But right now, we’ve moved on.”
In all honesty, Bernier was never the right fit for the Maple Leafs.
The 27-year-old from Laval was brought to Toronto in June of 2013 as part of a trade with the Los Angeles Kings that sent Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and a second round pick the other way. Bernier endeared himself quickly, but not for his goaltending prowess. He got in a fight with netminder Ryan Miller in the preseason.
Bernier was slated as the backup to James Reimer at the start of the 2013-2014 season, but he moved into the starter spot and wound up playing 55 games. In 2014-2015, he would play 58 games for a 21-28-7 record. Injuries proved troublesome, however, and he fell from grace last season with a 12-21-3 record.
Bernier failed to win in regulation from March 3 to December 18 of 2015 and that hurts. And by the time the Maple Leafs picked up goalie Frederik Andersen in June of 2016 and inked him to a five-year extension, Bernier had to know something was up.
“I was expecting [the move] obviously with the season I had last year,” Bernier said. “I’m sure I put some doubts in a lot of people’s minds. That’s the business, right? You got to win and you got to prove that you’re consistent and you’re a good goalie to stay in this league. So I wasn’t surprised. Maybe a little surprised on the long-term contract, but that’s the way it works.”
Bernier will have another chance to prove himself under Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle, who was behind the bench in Toronto when the netminder pulled into town from Los Angeles. And that connection might be the vote of confidence Bernier requires to get things back on track.
As for Toronto, they’re in the market for a backup netminder. There are some prospects in the system, like Antoine Bibeau, but it’s safe to say the Bernier era is over.