Leafs’ Goalie Bernier Tries To Look Beyond Arbitration

Leafs’ Goalie Bernier Tries To Look Beyond Arbitration&h=235&w=320&zc=1

It’s not exactly a situation that kids dream of playing hockey on backyard rinks and frozen ponds–it’s a very tough situation when a player and his team have widely disparate opinions on financial compensation. That’s exactly the situation that Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier was in this summer after a disappointing season not only for himself but for the entire franchise. He worked out a deal with the team before the arbitration ruling came down and everyone is saying the right things as they try to get beyond the impasse.

Bernier made $3.4 million last season but the team offered him $2.89 for one year–the minimum that they could offer. Bernier asked for a one year deal for $5.1 million. On Sunday, the two sides agreed to a two year contract worth $8.3 million. Bernier says that he carries no animosity from the arbitration process: “There’s obviously things they say that you don’t want to hear, but at the same time I think you grow from those experiences. I won’t be sour about it. I know it’s part of the business. They’re trying to get the best deal possible, we’re trying to do the same on our side. I’m just happy right now that we found a deal for the terms that we wanted.”

Toronto general manager Lou Lamoriello was also conciliatory in his statements: “Hopefully [Jonathan] has a year that pushes us, that is the organization, to speak to him next summer and looking for [a long-term contract]. Because the thought process is trying to get a goaltender, and hopefully it’s Jonathan, to be the stabilizer for this franchise.”

Bernier says he’s excited about the forthcoming rebuilding process for Toronto under new head coach Mike Babcock: “I want to be part of the Maple Leafs, especially the rebuild. I think that’s something amazing. I’m pretty sure they have a good plan and we’re going to go in the right direction. I’m excited. Two years, it gives me a little bit of comfort and I don’t have to think this year about re-signing next summer. I can just really focus on playing hockey and not have to worry about the following year.”

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