BROSSARD, Quebec -- Jonathan Bernier stepped on the ice at the Montreal Canadiens' practice facility Tuesday wearing enemy colors, and he couldn't have been happier.
Bernier was one of four NHL goaltenders taking part in the CCM/Reebok Goalie Summit, a gathering that allows them to try on their new pads and shoot some promotional material for the company that gears them up to face NHL shooters.
For Bernier, it was the first time he pulled on the famed blue and white of his new team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he was smiling from ear to ear at the sight of himself.
"It's my first time wearing this jersey," he told NHL.com before heading off for a photo shoot. "It looks pretty good."
In a few weeks, Bernier will be wearing that jersey on a far more regular basis at Maple Leafs training camp, and for the first time in years he will be in a legitimate battle for playing time.
Bernier has spent his career in the shadow of Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. The 25-year-old finally got his chance to compete for a starting job when the Maple Leafs acquired him in June in a trade for goaltender Ben Scrivens, forward Matt Frattin and a second-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
The one hitch was the Maple Leafs already have a pretty good goalie, James Reimer, who was eighth in the NHL last season with a .924 save percentage and had a 19-8-5 record with a 2.46 goals-against average.
Regardless of that apparent obstacle standing between Bernier and the uncontested No. 1 goalie position he has waited so patiently for, the Quebec native remains excited about the opportunity to attend camp to compete for an opportunity to play.
"I'm used to it," Bernier said. "I'm sure they made the trade because they thought we could have a pretty good battle between me and Reimer, and that's what I'm looking for, to get a chance to prove what I can do and get some playing time and hopefully fit well on my new team."
Last offseason Bernier was just as excited for training camp, knowing Quick had undergone surgery and he would get a chance to carry the load for the Kings through the early going. But because of the NHL lockout, that opportunity never arrived.
"I was planning to play a lot more before Christmas; it didn't happen," Bernier said. "But I had a pretty good season (9-3-1, 1.88, .922) so I'm pretty confident going to camp, and that's what I needed. It's a fresh start for me, so I'm very excited."
"But it will be a good challenge for our team."
Author: Arpon Basu | Managing Editor LNH.com
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