Author: Joe Yerdon

Jonathan Bernier

Bernier ready to seize opportunity to win Toronto starting job


Jonathan Bernier has always been a highly-touted young goalie. The problem he’s had is being stuck behind a guy who seized an opportunity to win and keep a starting job.

Now he’s a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and while James Reimer has been the No. 1 guy there the last two seasons, Bernier will get a shot to be the man there. He tells Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star he plans on taking advantage of it.

“I’ve been waiting for that, to get my chance,” Bernier said. “It was very frustrating. That’s hockey, When you get your chance, you’ve got to take it. That’s what happened with Jonathan Quick.”

The Leafs haven’t said one way or the other about what the situation will be in goal, but given their acquisition of Bernier and previous chase of Roberto Luongo, you have to assume there’ll be competition to be the starter.

If you thought goaltending was already a strength for the Leafs, they might be swimming in riches now.

Tallon is building the Panthers in a familiar way

Dale Tallon

Panthers GM Dale Tallon made a name for himself being the guy who essentially built the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup team in 2010.

When he took over the Florida Panthers in the summer of 2010, he knew he had to help build them from the ground up and his design is looking mighty familiar to what he did in Chicago.

Think of the players he drafted in Chicago that became Cup winners: Niklas Hjalmarsson (4th round – 2005), Jonathan Toews (3rd overall – 2006), Patrick Kane (1st overall – 2007), Marcus Kruger (5th round – 2009).

In Florida, he’s had more than his fair share of high first-round picks and looking at how he’s used them, the similarities to Chicago are eerie.

2010: Erik Gudbranson (D), Nick Bjugstad (C), Quinton Howden (F)
2011: Jonathan Huberdeau (F)
2012: Michael Matheson (D)
2013: Aleksander Barkov (C)

Next season’s Panthers roster could see five of those six players suiting up on opening night (Matheson is currently at Boston College).

Barkov is set to be Huberdeau’s set-up man and the parallels to those two possibly being the next Toews and Kane are there. Gudbranson came on a bit last season after getting his shoulder repaired and showed he can be a physically intimidating player.

If Bjugstad and Howden live up to their potential and Matheson emerges when he’s through with school, this Florida team could be very tough to beat… Eventually.

Latest bid to stop Coyotes sale fails again

Los Angeles Kings v Phoenix Coyotes - Game Two

There’s not much left to do in Glendale to keep the Coyotes there.

Glendale resident Ken Jones and his group of citizens failed, for the third time, to get enough signatures to bring the Coyotes deal to a vote. As Caitlin McGlade of the Arizona Republic hears it from Jones, he felt he was trying to save the city from itself.

“We did not want Glendale to become a miniature Detroit,” Jones said, adding the job was “just too big” for the volunteers.

“They are better citizens than those that did nothing. Shame on those who stood silently by like sheep,” he said.

Jones and his group had to amass 7,000 signatures to bring the Coyotes deal to a city-wide vote but he says he only got three-fourths that amount.

His reference to Detroit is due to that city declaring bankruptcy recently. Of course, Detroit also approved finances to build a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings so maybe the parallels are already a bit too strong.

With this latest effort to block the sale now over with, it’s up to the Ice Arizona group to complete the sale and for the NHL Board of Governors to approve it. The potential ownership group has until Monday, August 5 to complete the sale.

Clifford on new deal: ‘Sure beats shoveling [poop] for $10 an hour’

Kyle Clifford

Kyle Clifford signed a two-year deal to stay with the Kings yesterday and while we haven’t heard what the financial details are yet, the man himself doesn’t seem too concerned with that.

Clifford tells John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor his particular grounded way to look at being a professional athlete and being not bothered by how large his paycheck is.

“Whatever it ends up being, it’s going to be good money; better than shoveling shit for $10-an-hour, like I used to do when I was a teenager,” he said.

Curiously enough, Clifford is a favorite of coach Darryl Sutter who’s been know to shovel some barns out himself.

Clifford’s new deal is a relief to him because it puts an end to some of the trade rumors that had been circulating around him. For now, he’ll have his hands full competing to stay in the lineup and bring that sandpaper-like kind of game to the ice.

Malkin says Russian stars were ready to stay in KHL

Evgeni Malkin

We all remember how not-delightful the NHL lockout was. It could’ve been particularly destructive for the league had some of their top Russian players never returned from overseas when it ended, however.

That’s precisely what almost went down according to Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. He tells SovSport, as translated by Igor Kleyner of Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks that he and other superstar Russians like Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin, and Pavel Datsyuk nearly stayed at home last season.

While Kovalchuk did find a way to return home, Malkin also says the lure of going back to Russia to play there will always be there and it’s something he might consider doing later in his career.

Teams and fans will always have that fear their favorite Russian player will want to return to their roots. Kovalchuk and Jets forward Alex Burmistrov both pulled that off this year.

As for Malkin, unless he pulls a Kovalchuk he won’t be going anywhere soon as his extension with the Penguins kicks in this season and lasts til the end of 2022.