The Detroit Red Wings were in need of an established presence to play behind Jimmy Howard going into this offseason following the trade of Petr Mrazek and departure of Jared Coreau.
They found it in veteran Jonathan Bernier, and he’s aiming at being more than just a backup. With a record of 19-13-3 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .913 save percentage last season in Colorado, Bernier already has a Stanley Cup title on his resume as Jonathan Quick’s backup in Los Angeles and has shown the ability to be a number one option in the crease.
“For me I didn’t want to be in a position where I played 15-20 games,” Bernier said following the signing.
“I want to come in and have a chance to play as much as possible, obviously depending on my play. But I just thought it was a great opportunity that me and Jimmy can battle for games.”
“I know Jimmy a little bit, playing against him, and we’re going to push each other to bring this team back into the playoffs.”
Howard has one year left on the six year pact (cap hit of $5,291,66) he signed in 2013, and Bernier acknowledged that played into his decision to sign with Detroit.
“It was,” he said when talking about Howard’s contract situation. “I had some other teams that were kind of in the same situation. I could have stayed in Colorado, as well – Varly (goalie Semyon Varlamov) had one year left – but I just decided to move on.
“I’ll be 30 (in August) but my body feels like I’m 25. I know how to take care of my body better than when I was younger. I’m more mature now, I’ve been through ups and downs in my career, and I know how to handle a lot more situations now.
Bernier spent three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and also had a stop with the Anaheim Ducks before signing a one-year deal with the Avalanche last summer. He’s now looking for some stability, and hopes Detroit can offer him just that.
“It was very appealing to come to Detroit and be part of something special. There’s a lot of history in this organization and this town and I’m excited to be part of it.
“I’m happy for me and my family to be able to stay at last three years, and hopefully more, in one city.”