Ersberg out, Bernier in (GASP)

Murray talks goalies " LA Kings Insider

Murray: We made a decision by bringing Jonathan Quick up from the minors [in 2008], and he stepped in and took over, basically. We were looking for something really good to happen in that area. Jason LaBarbera was good, but Jonathan Quick came in and he was just better.

Okay? "Jason LaBarbera was good." No, Jason LaBarbera was not good. If he had been good, Jonathan Quick would never have been promoted. I know Terry Murray doesn't like to speak ill of the dead, but the fact is, Jason Labarbera was Terry Murray's declared #1 goalie from the start of the season right through to the morning of LaBarbera's last start as a King. So I file "Jason Labarbera was good" right next to "he's our #1 guy" in the file of meaningless platitudes. No point in being good or #1 if it means you get immediately benched and traded for a 7th round pick.

[...] I look back over last year, with Quick again, and it was just kind of the same scenario. He wouldn’t relinquish the net. He played great. He was one of our most important players, key players, every game. So I found it very difficult to have him relinquish the net.

I like the presence of the disingenuous "he wouldn't relinquish the net" and the more accurate "I found it very difficult to have him relinquish the net" within a couple of seconds of one another. How exactly does a goalie refuse to not be the starter? That's something you could bottle and sell.

We were really a good team at the start. We had the jump and we had the position in the standings that we wanted. It was a team thing, but Quick is the guy that’s in the net. Then, as we got to a time where we were slipping a little bit, after we got through that Olympic break, that might have been a time to say, `OK, we need Quicker to get a little bit of a break.’ I mention this again. He comes back from the Olympics and he hasn’t seen a lot of pucks over a two-week period. But now this is the critical time, so you’ve got to keep going with your No. 1 guy."

I am a supporter of Terry Murray. I like him. I like his old-timey style. I attribute a big chunk of the Kings' success to him. And part of that, his manner, is this kind of good-natured merit-based Atticus Finch consistency and even-handedness.

But the boxed paragraph above is fascinating. We were a good team at the start...Quick is the guy...then...we were slipping...and that might have been a time to [play a back-up -- this is a question about Bernier, after all]...but it's an important time, so you stick with your #1, and lose a bunch of games, and hope your guy snaps out of it in the playoffs, which he doesn't.

That is a very strange vote of confidence for Quick. It basically says, "he was a big part of the early success of the team, so we stuck with him when he wasn't so good after the Olympics."

Remember that Murray also maintained that Quick wasn't tired down the stretch, and somebody (I forget, maybe Murray, maybe Quick) said Quick's new baby wasn't a factor, and I remember Nick Nickson jumping down the throat of a caller who dared to suggest that Quick was being overplayed...and then after the season is over, Murray says, yeah maybe I played him too much.

So now, after a summer of being told Bernier had not yet earned the #2 spot (compare this to Westgarth, who was written in pen on the 4th line before camp even began), the battle was won by Bernier without firing a shot. Ersberg never even played in a pre-season game. Yes, I know; he was hurt. Well, he's not hurt now. He could have played both games this weekend. Instead of zero. If the situation were flipped, and Bernier hurt his hand, there would have been outrage if Bernier was returned to Manchester without getting into a game.

Now at least we know that Quick is penciled in to start 55-59 games ("upwards of that high 50s number," Murray said), and Bernier gets somewhere between 23 and 27 games. Beyond that, I find it hard to grab onto any particular rules of cause and effect when Murray talks about the goalies. Quick "would not relinquish" the starting job, which presumably he did through stellar play, but then when his play was less than stellar, Murray "found it difficult to have him relinquish" the job. If Bernier "will not relinquish" the net this month, what then? What does that even look like?

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