If Jonathan Bernier had to do it again, he might have tried a different way to make a first impression on his new boss.
Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle revealed Tuesday at the team's annual golf tournament that Bernier, whom the Maple Leafs acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in June, accidentally parked in Carlyle's parking spot at the Toronto training facility. Happily for Bernier, Carlyle also made it clear the oversight won't play any role in the impending goaltending battle with returning starter James Reimer.
"When we acquired Jonathan Bernier, it was adding strength to a position that is very critical in the NHL. You show me an NHL club that made it anywhere in the playoffs, or even qualified for the playoffs, without a quality goaltender," Carlyle told the Maple Leafs' website. "That's what we're going to ask of both of our goalies. Because there's two of them, that creates a problem. Both can't play at once. There are factors that do take place over the course of the season that do force you to make a change, but if you win, you're in."
That's all Reimer needed to hear. Despite speculation he could lose the starting job to Bernier after a season that ended with a third-period meltdown and an overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Reimer was all smiles Tuesday.
"You look back through the years and you face stiff competition throughout your career growing up. There are a lot of goalies going for one spot," Reimer told the website. "This year with [Bernier] and some of the other goalies, it's going to be a tough competition and you're going to have to be your best right at the start. It will make for a good camp and hopefully a good year."
Reimer was in goal when Boston overcame a 4-1 third-period deficit in Game 7 to win 5-4 in overtime, but the 25-year-old had his most successful season in 2012-13. He posted a 19-8-5 record, set career bests in shutouts (four), goals-against average (2.46) and save percentage (.924), and led Toronto to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Taking all that into consideration, along with the fact Bernier has 29 NHL wins to his credit, Reimer is confident he can hold on to his starting spot.
"I like to think that I was the guy that was here. That's the position I want to keep. Bernier is a good goalie and it's going to be a good battle," Reimer said. "I'm sure people will talk about certain things and who is where. In my mind, I like to think I was the guy that brought them to the playoffs last year and hopefully can be the guy who brings the Cup here this year."
The battle between the two will be competitive, but Reimer has made it clear it will not be venomous. He and Bernier have skated together recently, which has helped cultivate a friendly environment.
"We knew each other a little bit before. He's a good guy and a good goalie. We both want to be that No. 1 guy," said Reimer, who added the competition should keep him sharp. "It keeps you on edge and it makes you perform at your best every day. That's something I like to pride myself in. Whether there is competition or no competition, I'm at my best. Definitely, when there is somebody around it keeps you on your toes."
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