Jonathan Bernier wins Kings' backup goaltending job; Erik Ersberg's future uncertain
To no one's surprise, Jonathan Bernier won the supposed "competition" for the job of backing up Jonathan Quick as the Kings' No. 1 goaltender this season.
Kings Coach Terry Murray said Sunday that Bernier had beaten out Erik Ersberg, who bruised his left hand in a practice and never got into an exhibition game. Bernier would have had to be atrocious to not prevail, and he was fine in two appearances before the Kings and Ducks met in both teams' exhibition finale Sunday. Bernier recorded one win, a 1.20 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in preseason play.
Bernier is the better goalie and the Kings have long believed he would carry the team -- even before Quick surprisingly stepped up and became the starter.
Ersberg had one bad game last season and moved into Murray's doghouse with no chance for parole. Murray had so little trust in Ersberg that he played Quick far too often, insisting Quick's youth would enable him to handle the burden without taking into account the mental and emotional toll on Quick. Quick jumped from 2,400 minutes one season to 4,200 the next, with an Olympic appearance and first-time fatherhood thrown in to test him. He could have used a break, but Murray refused to call on Ersberg.
Again, Bernier is the better goalie and deserves the job. But there was no real competition here, just as there was no real competition on defense for more than the seventh job.
Murray and General Manager Dean Lombardi had their minds set, and it would have required something cataclysmic to change that. Keep saying there's competition when there really isn't and players start to lose trust.
In the meantime, it's not clear what will happen to Ersberg, who is due to earn $750,000 this season. It's likely he will be put on waivers.
-- Helene Elliott