As the regular season nears its finish, the Los Angeles Kings are preparing for another championship run, especially since Saturday when they officially clinched a playoff spot. But off the ice, the Kings have some good news to celebrate as well as goaltender Jonathan Bernier who chosen by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association as his team’s representative for the Bill Masterton Trophy this season.
After being Jonathan Quick’s backup for the last few seasons, there was talk, especially after last June’s Stanley Cup victory, that Bernier would be traded. He even had his name involved in many rumours leading up to this year’s trade deadline. But the Kings decided not to part ways with Bernier who is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer – a wise choice to say the least.
As great as Bernier has been in the backup role, he elevated his game to another level if you will this season. With Jonathan Quick coming off major back surgery, 2013 was Jonathan Bernier’s time to shine and while he hasn’t played as much as Quick has, the 24-year-old has filled in very nicely going 9-1-2 this season with a .186 goals-against average and a save-percentage of .922 in 13 games this season.
Of course, for what he’s done on the ice, the Bill Masterton Trophy is awarded to those with the greatest off-ice attributes. The awarded has been given annually to the player who exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedicated named after the former Minnesota North Star who showcased the same qualities during his brief career and life which was cut tragically short after hitting his head on the ice during a game on January 15, 1968.
In addition to his attitude in the Kings dressing room which has been second-to-none, it is impossible to mention Jonathan Bernier without touching on his charity work. As a part of “Bernie’s Angels”, the native of Laval, Quebec has donated four lower-level to each Kings home game last season to patients of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and their families and met with each patient after the games.
Jonathan Bernier did a little extra during last spring’s playoffs as he conducted an essay contest for aspiring goaltenders in which the winner would receive free goalie gear. Bernier also helped select the winner and three runner-ups and invited them to a goaltending clinic.
While we’re all very proud of the Kings team from Jeff Carter’s 25 goals to Dustin Brown’s physical presence to Drew Doughty’s recent hot streak, we can be just as proud, if not more so, for Jonathan Bernier for being nominated for the Masterton Trophy this season.
The honour is a well-deserved one and let’s hope the 24-year-old wins it.