Halt to season has been an education for Red Wings’ Jonathan Bernier and his family
Detroit – The interview was going to have to wait for a few minutes, as Jonathan Bernier had to take care of family matters.
And it was typical of so many families during this coronavirus pandemic. The Red Wings’ goaltender was finishing home-school duties with his kindergarten-age son.
“It can be a lot of work and obviously we’re (Bernier and his wife Martine) not teachers, so he doesn’t want to listen too much sometimes,” Bernier said. “There are good and bad days.”
The schooling usually gets done during the morning hours, but Bernier has adjusted accordingly. If things are going well, Bernier will make it a double session and get two days’ of schoolwork done.
Other times, it’s a battle that can’t be won.
“Sometimes we end up doing seven days a week of school because some days he doesn’t want to do it,” Bernier said. “It’s a big step, because he’s going into grade one next year. We want to make sure we’re doing it right.”
When the schooling is done, Bernier returns to the business of hockey, although that situation is just as complicated and frustrating.
Bernier has heard this week’s rumor about the regular season resuming in July with pod cities hosting each of the NHL’s four divisions. But until more is known, Bernier isn’t pinning his hopes on anything.
“I get that question a lot, ‘Are you guys going to play?’” Bernier said. “We don’t really know. Is it worth it to play without fans? What is the right scenario? The health of everyone (is most important).
“It’s important trying to finish the season and playoffs for the league’s revenue. (But) there is so much to consider. Guys want to finish the season and play the playoffs. We’re all trying to get back on the ice. But we have to find a way to make it safe for everyone and worth it.”
Bernier has been working out at home and staying in as good a shape as possible. He’s an avid biker, and he’s also doing some weight work and stretching extensively.
But there’s definitely going to have to be some sort of training camp, said Bernier, to get back into quality hockey shape.
“Everyone is in the same situation, no one has been skating, so in the end, everyone is starting in square one,” Bernier said. “For me, I would need two intense weeks. It would be tough, but in a week or two, it should be fine, the reaction time, and seeing pucks again.”
Whenever the NHL returns, it’s likely that it will be without fans. That will take some getting used to, Bernier said.
“It would be really weird,” Bernier said. “You would hear everything being said on the ice. There were a few games in Europe (without fans) and reading some of the comments, it didn’t feel like it was a real game.
“It will take some time to get used to that and hopefully we don’t get used to that (in the long term).
“As a goalie, it would be a weird feeling, but at the same time you’re so much in a zone, loud or not, you don’t really hear (too much).”
The Wings have long been eliminated from playoff competition, but Bernier doesn’t think motivation would be an issue finishing the remaining 11 games. Bernier thinks the Wings could use this block of games to springboard into next season.
“We’re all professional and you’re doing your job,” Bernier said. “We’re playing for a great organization. We’re upset about the way our season has gone, so our mentality is the same from when all this happened. We want to finish strong and gain momentum for next season.”
Bernier is curious about how playing in the summer will affect going into next season. Especially if next season starts as it usually does with a September training camp.
“This would be a big, big change,” Bernier said. “A concern would be how would our bodies react to playing in the summer, then starting the next season right away. There are just so many questions.”
Bernier posted a 15-22-3 record with a 2.95 goals-against average and .907 save percentage and had taken over as the No. 1 goalie.
With one more season left on his contract – and Jimmy Howard an unrestricted free agent – Bernier seems to be the unquestioned No. 1 goaltender.
“You have to keep pushing and working, you’re never really set,” Bernier said. “They’ll bring someone in and you always have to keep competing against that other goalie. Hopefully Jimmy comes back, and if not, it’ll be another guy to compete against.
“You have to stay humble and work hard every day and perform.”