Monday, April 5, 2010

Bernier named AHL Goalie of the Year

Over the last several years Kings GM Dean Lombardi has made numerous changes to the organization. He's done simple things behind the scenes, like upgrading the workout facilities in El Segundo. He's been an open book with fans and media alike.  Yet, when all is said and done, the most significant mark he may leave on the Kings outside of a championship could be his commitment to developing goaltenders.

Jonathan Bernier was drafted in the first round just months after Dean Lombardi was hired in April 2006.  From day one both Dean and Assistant GM Ron Hextall have been insistent on not rushing Bernier to the NHL. Nobody wants to see a repeat of what happened to the only other Kings goalie drafted in the first round, Jamie Storr. His NHL career never really materialized after basically winning every award there is to win for younger players.

While Jonathan Quick has been the main man in net for LA this year, Kings fans and players have been treated to a few brief glimpses of Bernier this season...and he looks to be the real deal.

Earlier today he was rewarded for his hard work in the minors as the AHL named him their Top Goalie for 2009-2010.

Selected notes from the press release:

A 2009-10 First Team AHL All-Star, Bernier has posted a record of 30-20-6 in 57 appearances while leading the league in shots faced (1,807), saves made (1,693), save percentage (.937) and shutouts (nine). Bernier is 20 minutes off the league lead in minutes played (3,366) and places third in wins and second in goals-against average (2.03), helping the Monarchs to the second-ranked defense in the AHL. He was voted the starting Canadian goaltender at the 2010 AHL All-Star Classic and was named the Reebok/AHL Goaltender of the Month for October 2009 and the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the week ending Jan. 31.

A 21-year-old native of Laval, Que., Bernier becomes the youngest recipient of the Bastien Award since Martin Biron (also 21) won it in 1999. Bernier was a first-round draft choice (11th overall) by Los Angeles in 2006 and was 23-24-4 with a 2.40 GAA and a .914 save percentage in 54 games as a rookie with Manchester last season. Bernier is also 3-0-0 in three NHL appearances with the Kings this season, including his first NHL shutout on Mar. 30 at Nashville.
You can read the full press release by clicking here.

Past winners include Felix Potvin (1992) and Ryan Miller (2005).

Kings fans may also remember that former Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera won the award twice (2004, 2007)...and we all know how that turned out.

So, yes - the award guarantees nothing. However, if you've been paying attention at all over the last few years, it certainly appears that Lombardi and team are doing things right. The Kings probably wont win the Stanley Cup this year. However, with their depth throughout the organization - which can be further developed in LA or traded away for established NHL players - the future looks good.


The Mayor

photo courtesy of Michael Zampelli of LetsGoKings

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