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Fernandez Looks for a Starring Role

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
 Bish Chats with Manny Fernandez

New Boston Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez's favorite movie is Good Will Hunting.

Like many of us here in New England, he was moved by the story of a talented young man attempting to find his way in the world, and fighting against his demons.

"It was just very touching," said Fernandez, unabashedly. "I guess I can connect to that movie."

One theme, outside the plot, that struck him about the film was the success of the young filmmakers, both of whom had worked for several years without much notoriety.

"It was a breakthrough role for (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon), so I guess it is something to be proud of for them."

This season, Fernandez looks to garner a starring, er, make that starting role in Black & Gold, and deliver his own breakthrough performance in Boston, just like Will.

"It's going to be exciting," said Manny, thinking particularly of getting to play against his boyhood team -- the Montreal Canadiens.

"Especially if we beat their team," he added.

John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.
Fernandez also implied that it seemed inevitable that he would someday play on a team whose biggest rival was le bleu, blanc et rouge.

"That's the funny thing," said Fernandez. "I was originally drafted by Quebec.

"And now I get to be a Boston Bruin, so I think the fans in Montreal are going to hate me really fast."

That he ends up on the opposite side of the rivalry is ironic for several reasons, the least of which is the fact that he was born in Etobicoke, Ontario, which happens to be the hometown of legendary Montreal goalie Ken Dryden.

Way beyond a shared hometown, Manny, whose full name is Emmanuel Fernandez-Lemaire, is Habs' legend Jacques Lemaire's nephew and the new Boston netminder counts him among his biggest hockey influences.

Incidentally, Lemaire was Fernandez's coach in Minnesota.

"My uncle played (in the NHL), " said Fernandez. "He played for the Canadiens organization for a long time and he stayed in the organization.

"He obviously played (much of his career) before I was born (August 27, 1974) but still, he was part of the organization so he brought me in and I got to see games and got to see the dressing room and guys like Pierre Mondou and Rick Wamsley.

"It was just an exciting time to grow up in Montreal and those players were like heroes to us…they looked so big."

Despite obvious differences in style, culture and language, Manny sees a striking similarity between Montreal (his off-season home) and Boston.

"I can see here it's sort of the same thing," he said. "(Both cities) are up north and people love hockey.

"That's just the way it is.

"You go around the city, you go into the suburbs and kids are playing hockey in the streets. (New Englanders) were born to play hockey."

Even though he grew up in the same city that Dryden and Bruins nemesis Patrick Roy plied their trade, Fernandez insists that it was a Philadelphia Flyers goalie who brought him to his chosen position between the pipes.

"Pelle Lindbergh was the goalie that did it for me," said Manny. "He brought me to the 'other side' and I became a goalie fan.

"And that's how I grew up to be a goalie."

Asked about what kind of game he brings into the Bruins fold, Fernandez spoke eloquently about his mental makeup and perhaps he also explained one other reason for his affinity for Good Will Hunting even several years after it hit theatres.

Just like the lead character in his favorite film, he shares a profound intensity about his life and his craft.

"I am going to work as hard as I can," said Fernanadez, "and get prepared as hard as I can.

"I am a very intense player. Very aggressive. I seem kind of calm right now, but once it all starts I become a different person. But that's just the way it is. I get out there and I want to win.

"I take it very seriously, and that's the best I can wrap it up with," he said.

Say no more, Manny.

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