Two Jonathans, One Crease

Howard Johnston




Four years ago, the Los Angeles Kings’ net minding situation was a mess. They used six different goaltenders in the 2007/08 season: Jason LaBarbera, Jean Sebastien Aubin, Erik Ersberg, Dan Cloutier, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick and Daniel Taylor. Even though Quick was handed the starting job the following season and posted respectable numbers (21-18-2, 2.46 GAA and .914 SV%), it seemed that Bernier was considered the franchise’s goalie of the future.


The Kings’ front office wanted both Jonathans to play as much as possible for the 09/10 season. The team decided that Quick would be their starting goaltender, with Erik Ersberg penciled in as his back-up, and Bernier would return to Manchester. Bernier was disappointed to be sent back down to the AHL, but the team challenged him to “be the best goalie in the American league”. The common belief was that Bernier was being groomed for the eventual number one role, but that Quick was a serviceable option for the time being.


Both goaltenders had a fantastic year. Even though Quick’s peripheral numbers dropped a bit, he recorded a franchise record 39 wins. However, playing 72 games, participating in the Olympics, immediately followed by the birth of his first child, proved to be a recipe for fatigue. He definitely needed more rest down the stretch, yet coach Terry Murray didn't have enough confidence in Ersberg to play him during such a critical point in the season. Meanwhile, Bernier dominated the AHL (30-21-6, 2.03 GAA, .936 SV%, nine shutouts) and even came up to NHL to spell Quick for a few games. He won all three contests, including one by shutout.


Last summer, the pundits were predicting that the 2010/11 season was Bernier’s chance to overtake the other Jonathan. However, Quick jumped out to a great start, winning ten of his first eleven decisions. Bernier lost five of his first seven starts, and it was clear who was the team’s number one goalie for the time being. However, Murray trusted Bernier more than Ersberg the previous year. This extra rest made a huge difference in Quick's performance. With his workload reduced to 60 games, Quick accumulated 35 wins. His 2.24 GAA was fourth in the NHL and his 10-0 record in shootouts was the league’s best.


Los Angeles has been slowly building their roster around a core of young talent in net and on the blue line. At some point they will have to choose which Jonathan will be their main man between the pipes. Quick has been viewed as the temporary stop-gap goalie while Bernier matures. Yet, he has turned himself into a top ten goaltender over the past two years.


With the recent acquisitions of Mike Richards and Simon Gagne,