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Chat Transcript: Jonathan Bernier

December 4, 2009

Drafted 11th overall by the NHL's Los Angeles Kings in 2006, Manchester Monarchs second-year goaltender Jonathan Bernier stepped into the AHL Chat Room to answer fans' questions on Thursday, Dec. 3.

You have obviously gotten out to a pretty good start individually this season. What have been some of the keys to your early success? – Jim from Manchester, N.H.
It’s always easier coming in for your second season or your third, because you feel like a veteran. (Los Angeles) asked me to come down and act like a veteran and try to carry the team on my back, and I just try to give my team a chance to win every night. I’ve been successful with that so far, but I’ve got to keep going.

Manchester’s opening-day roster was the second-youngest in the American Hockey League. What has it been like playing on such a young team thus far? – Kevin Boston, Mass.
I think it’s exciting, you know, everybody is pretty happy to be here and everyone wants to learn to get a chance to be with the big club. I think that’s one of the main points of our success – guys are buying into the system and guys want to be part of a winning team. Even if we’re young, guys are making the sacrifices to be as good as they can be.

I think it’s been a pretty good system (that we have). (The captains) are doing a tremendous job right now. They’re talking to the coaches too, because it’s never easy to coach a young team like this. I think they’re hoping the coaches and the coaches are helping the players, so it’s a big circle.

Describe what was going through your head after you were drafted 11th overall by the Kings in 2006. – Tim from Worcester, Mass.
It was pretty amazing. It just went so fast, though. You hear your name and it feels like two minutes, you’re backstage taking pictures. It was pretty unbelievable. I didn’t expect the Kings – I was (projected) at 15th overall, so I didn’t know where I was going. I know Tampa Bay was drafting 15th, so I knew I had a good chance to be there, but then the Kings drafted me and I was real happy about that.

What are some of the things you learned during your rookie year with Manchester last season that you have tried to implement as a second-year pro this season? – Kirk from Lowell, Mass.
Well, one thing is living on your own, which is a lot different than juniors. But on the ice, I felt like I was doing some things that I could get away with in juniors, or I was playing more aggressive, but here the guys are pretty good at passing the puck, and I had to adjust a little bit in my crease, get a little deeper.

With a play like a 3-on-2 or a 2-on-1, (in juniors) I could be a little more challenging on the shooter. Even if they were passing, I always had the time to recover. Here, I feel like guys are good at one-timing or doing a fake shot and then pass, so I just have to be a little bit deeper. But after a year, too, you start knowing some of the players and their tendencies, and it feels a little bit easier to play when you know the players.

You appeared in four NHL games for Los Angeles two years ago but have not been back for a regular-season game since. What has the feedback been like from the coaching staff and management in Los Angeles? – Joan from Concord, N.H.
Well when I got sent down after training camp, it was really the first time that (Kings head coach) Terry Murray saw me play a few games and practices. He just told me that he was really proud of my training camp, and he was happy to see what kind of player I was. It was really all positive. I just think that in time, I’m going to have my chance one day. Right now, (Jonathan) Quick is doing the job up there.

I just have to focus on myself, play here, and play as well as I can here. But it’s been really positive – (the Los Angeles staff) is saying good things, and the coaching staff here, too, they try to (reinforce) what they’re saying up there.

Is there a particular goaltender whom you watched growing up that you try to mirror your style of play after, and why? – Bradley from Springfield, Mass.
I think it’s hard to copy other goaltenders. Growing up, I watched a lot of Patrick Roy, and right now still a lot of (Martin) Brodeur. Those are the types of goalies I try to watch. But it’s not because of what style they play, it’s more about how they compete every game. They also show you that sometimes you’ll have a bad night, and it’s the same for me or for any goalie – you have some bad nights, but you just have to bounce back. It’s more mentally that I like to watch those types of goalies play.

Do you have any rituals that you use to keep yourself mentally and physically ready for a game? – Joshua from California
Not really, I just try to prepare myself. I try to do it the same way, but if something comes up, I don’t really care. When you get on the ice, it’s important for your mind to be in the right place, so I just try to get my mind set right away when I get on the ice. Before the game, I just like to relax and do my own stuff, but it’s not really anything special.

Is it tough during a game, in situations when your offense is controlling the play for long stretches at a time, to stay focused and be ready for when the action turns toward your end of the ice? – Dan from Milford, Conn.
Yeah, it is pretty tough. It depends on what type of shot you get after that minute or couple minutes that they’re in the zone, but usually it’s going to be a 2-on-1 or a 3-on-2. For sure it’s hard, but you have to try and stay focused and make that big save for your team because they’ve been dominating for a couple minutes. It just gets the team down if you let a bad one in (after that).

What do you think of the fans in Manchester, and what is it like to meet new fans along the way? – Jordan from Manchester, N.H.
I think it’s been great. I think we have some good nights, some bad nights, but I’m really enjoying it here. It’s a great city, the fans are great, and there are a lot of fans who also go out on the road to support us, which is really nice to see.

Where has been your favorite place to play an away game, and why? – Courtney from Connecticut
I’d have to say Hershey. It feels like the crowd is right on top of you, and every game we play there is always a tight game. It’s always a nice challenge to go in there and try to win against one of the best teams in the league. Chicago is pretty nice, too, but I think Hershey is probably the best.

Have you noticed any technological improvements in goaltending sticks that might have aided your play? Which brand of stick do you prefer, and why? – Dave from Grand Rapids, Mich.
I’m using the new graphite stick with Reebok. I’ve been using those for three years now. At first it was simple, but then they came out with a new one which is in stores now. It’s pretty good, it’s really light and at first it was weird to use that, but right now I don’t think I could switch back to wood.

When you’re playing a team that has former teammates on it, do you go out of your way to catch up with them before or after the game? – Bruce from Lewiston, Maine
Yeah, we try to talk to each other after the games and catch up on how they’re doing, try to get some news. Before the game it’s pretty hard. Usually if you’re on the road, the bus will get there and you’ll go straight to the rooms. But it’s usually after the games, and even on the ice too sometimes.

What do you like to do in your free time, when you’re not playing hockey? – Doug from Virginia
During the season, I have a Playstation 3, so I like to play NHL. I like to shop, and just sort of hang out with the guys a lot of the time.