Monday, October 15, 2007

Kings demote Bernier

The Los Angeles Kings and Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi Monday announced the following player transactions: goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin has been activated from the injured reserve list; forward Brady Murray has been assigned to Manchester of the American Hockey League; and goaltender Jonathan Bernier has been returned to Lewiston of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
>> team release
The Kings are in trouble.

Los Angeles has allowed 27 goals in six games so far, 4.5 goals against per game, and the team's only win was one of the two goofy games in England to start the year. Bernier was in goal for 16 of those goals against in four starts, and even those numbers are an improvement over the 4.51 GAA and .827 save percentage Jason LaBarbera has managed to this point.

It's ugly stuff, and another few weeks of this and it's another lost season for the Kings. Coach Marc Crawford is officially, already, on the hot seat (he's actually sharing it with Bob Hartley).

There are a few ways for this to now go:
  • Aubin's going to get a few starts now, simply because he's the only option, and if he can win a few games, they're in business. This seems unlikely

  • Dan Clouter gets a recall from Manchester of the AHL, where he's been mediocre in two starts, and gets a few starts. This could be uglier

  • A trade or signing
If I'm GM Dean Lombardi, I'm all over Option No. 3 as soon as possible. The best available option in goal would likely be Ilya Bryzgalov, but with the Ducks unlikely to deal him to a division rival, that leaves the Kings looking at (and dreaming of) Martin Gerber — but he's played himself back into a starting role in Ottawa.

Now, the Kings are far from the only team in the league having early goaltending problems, and I wouldn't discount the likelihood that another 'tender could be had in a trade. Manny Fernandez has been brutal in Boston, both Atlanta goalies have ugly GAAs, and someone like Jose Theodore or Marc Denis could be had for a song (and not even a good one).

As for Bernier, well, he showed me enough that I think he'll be just fine as an NHL 'tender — eventually. It's the rest of the team that's got a problem right now in la-la land.

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At 6:23 p.m., October 15, 2007, Anonymous said...

Seems to me that maybe GM Lombardi should be in the hotseat as well. He had all off-season to make a move for a starter. He could have picked up Gerber for a bag of chipped pucks in July, whereas now he has no where to turn that isn't either a poor move or a move that is more expensive than what he may be willing to pay.

Unless he thought that Cloutier or Bernier was the answer. If he did, that just backs up my first comment.

At 6:25 p.m., October 15, 2007, Anonymous Lyle Richardson said...

Another option is to call the agents for Curtis Joseph and Robert Esche.

At 6:28 p.m., October 15, 2007, Anonymous said...

How a coach can end up in the hotseat with goalies like Aubin, Bernier, and Cloutier to draw from I will never know.

Can you say Belfour?

At 6:54 p.m., October 15, 2007, Blogger P said...

So does Lombardi try to grab a long-shot like Joseph or Esche with the thin hope of saving face, or does he actually invest in a quality goalie? There's an interesting situation brewing in Montreal where they're dealing with the best possible problem of having an all-star-caliber goalie and a soon-to-be one on the same roster. Even if GM Gainey lets them battle for the top spot - keeping Huet on his toes while letting Price gain some valuabe experience by playing games and learning from the veterans - they still have an extremely efficient keeper in Halak who could start on most NHL squads, and who has gained all he can from playing in the minors.

The question is, how much do you think Lombardi is willing to part with to fix a hole that is essentialy sinking his whole ship?

At 7:36 p.m., October 15, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Montreal won't trade any of the goalies without a significant return... a young building block type player. It's not in Montreal's interest to move Halak simply because they have 3 capable NHL goalies.

Halak still has a future with the team if Huet becomes too expensive... and he is still pretty raw (didn't win one road game last year for example). I suppose there's a bandaid solution in Yann Danis if you want a long shot. He had a real good camp and was arguably their best goalie in camp.

Halak might be cheaper if the Habs are competitive down the stretch and they're looking to flip him for a veteran for the playoffs, but that's a ways away.

Eddie Belfour is still the best option on the cheap if you ask me. He had a strong finish last year and is training to play in Sweden this season (has he made it there yet, I know he was training with UND, his old alma mater).

Really, I don't see many solutions for them unless Ottawa is okay with trading Gerber or something. A trade route will be expensive for the Kings... and frankly, it should be considering what they've allowed to occur.

At 7:39 p.m., October 15, 2007, Blogger Godd Till said...

Cox opined on his blog today that LA could be a destination for Raycroft.
Please, make it happen.

At 8:16 p.m., October 15, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

So does Lombardi try to grab a long-shot like Joseph or Esche with the thin hope of saving face, or does he actually invest in a quality goalie?

Just because Joseph was in the toilet that is Phoenix doesn't mean he's not a quality goalie.

At 8:54 p.m., October 15, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

L.A. has been a goalie graveyard forever, it seems they've only ever had two stable goaltenders (Vachon and Hrudey) in their now 40-year history, and any number of forgettable flops.

They've never been a defensive-oriented squad -- the few blueline studs they've had over the years (Larry Murphy, Steve Duchesne, Rob Blake) have been primarily offensive defencemen -- and an average netminder (e.g. Felix Potvin, Mathieu Garon, Dan Cloutier) is insufficient to stop the bleeding. Hard to envision either Aubin or LaBarbera as the answer, either, and things could be real ugly in the Kings' end of the rink yet again this year.

Probably in Bernier's best interest to get him out of there, he's the best goalie prospect they've had for many years. Unfortunately for him, when he gets his next shot the Kings will still be the Kings.

At 10:53 p.m., October 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How a coach can end up in the hotseat with goalies like Aubin, Bernier, and Cloutier to draw from I will never know.
Despite having a Cup contender from the blueline out, the Crawford-coached Canucks were undone by the unparalleled crappiness of Cloutier's goaltending. Then Crawford gets axed. Resurfaces in L.A. Convinces Lombardi to trade for and then - when nobody else in organized hockey above Pee Wee would have him for free - give Cloutier a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract.
That's why Crawford's on the hotseat. Because he's a world-class dope.

At 10:08 a.m., October 16, 2007, Blogger Master of the Obvious said...

From what I've seen Bernier has been making some huge saves for the Kings. The goals the Wings were scoring the other night, for instance, were often of the pretty tic-tac-toe variety and I wouldn't fault Bernier for the pucks that made their way over the goal line.

Offensively the Kings are sustaining no pressure on opponents and the puck is kept for long stretches in their own zone leaving the kid out to dry.

If anything sending Bernier down saves a contract year for a kid who's certainly going to be a good goaltender.

At 10:44 a.m., October 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the call to Cujo...

At 11:09 a.m., October 16, 2007, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) We agree that Lombadardi deserves much of the blame for their goaltending situation
2) Was he the only one who didn't see this coming? Its a shame for King fans for we believe if they had a good goalie they'd be a playoff if not Cup contender!

At 8:49 p.m., October 16, 2007, Blogger Jeremy said...

What's especially puzzling to me is that they had the chance to sign Joseph or Esche in the waning days of the offseason, but opted for J-S Aubin instead. Even in a best case scenario, Aubin's not going to be anything more for this team than a stopgap backup.

Clearly, Lombardi had some faith that one of LaBarbera or Cloutier would step up and play decently enough to hold down the fort. I don't think the intention was ever to throw Bernier to the wolves at 19, but things sort of worked out that way. Unfortunately, the Kings appear saddled with several AHL 'tenders and a future top-flight starter who's still aways off.


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