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Jonathan Bernier Looks to Continue His Resurgence in Colorado

Jonathan Bernier Looks to Continue His Resurgence in Colorado

The Colorado Avalanche have come to terms on a 1-year, $2.75 million contract with free agent goaltender Jonathan Bernier, filling the need created when Avalanche backup Calvin Pickard was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the recent expansion draft. Bernier has previously played in Los Angeles, Toronto, and Anaheim. As was rumored, the Ducks have signed Ryan Miller for 2 years to back up John Gibson.

Bernier had spent three seasons in Toronto before being traded to Anaheim. Originally acquired as an expected starting goaltender after backing up Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, Bernier delivered a strong 2013-14 campaign. His next two seasons proved more difficult, but he saw a resurgence in Anaheim working with sports psychologist Dana Sinclair, as he was willing to discuss with Kevin Woodley (of InGoal and NHL.com) late this past season:

“All year, even when I had a couple bad games, I always focused on the process and that’s what I learned in Toronto,” Bernier said. “I was looking at the bigger picture there and looking too far ahead instead of just going day by day, work hard in practice, feel good. Even during the game, just focusing on my own job instead of focusing on if we’re going to win or not.”

His refreshed mental approach coincided with a return to some his goaltending “roots.” As Woodley reported, Bernier had worked with Anaheim goalie coach Sudarshan Maharaj as young goaltender in the Hockey Canada program, and the two were able to help Bernier return to his strengths.

“He’s very good on his feet so the more than Bernier can be on his feet, the more effective he is,” Maharaj said.

Bernier also welcomed the opportunity to rein in the more aggressive initial depth that Toronto had encouraged, and use his strong skating ability and patience to strategically adjust his positioning.

“They wanted me to attack pucks instead of receiving the play, to hold my ground,” Bernier said. “I am a guy that needs flow in my game, I know that.”

For Bernier, the Avalanche represent a chance to continue to prove that he can be a starting NHL goaltender. Semyon Varlamov is recovering from season-ending hip surgery, and has had injury problems in previous seasons as well. With the Avalanche not expected to improve significantly over last season, it’s more than likely that Bernier will get a chance to show the rest of the league what he can do with a heavy workload.

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