On Monday I wrote about how Jonathan Bernier was struggling mightily for the Maple Leafs right now but you should still be cheering for him to succeed. You can read that here. That same night Garret Sparks went out and made history becoming the first Leafs goalie to record a shutout in his NHL debut
Today the Leafs placed Bernier on a conditioning stint with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. So what does it mean?
For Jonathan Bernier
According to section 13.8 of the NHL CBA
“Unless a Player consents, he shall not be Loaned on a Conditioning Loan to a minor league club. Such Conditioning Loan shall not extend for more than fourteen (14) consecutive days. The Commissioner may take whatever steps he deems necessary to investigate the circumstances under which a Player is Loaned on a Conditioning Loan. If the Commissioner has reason to believe or determines that the Club has used the Conditioning Loan to evade Waivers, or otherwise Circumvent any provision of this Agreement, he may take such disciplinary action against the Club, as he deems appropriate. The Player shall continue, during the period of such Conditioning Loan, to receive the same Paragraph 1 NHL Salary, and be entitled to the same benefits, that he would have received had he continued to play with the Club.”
A few things stick out from this.
- Jonathan Bernier had to consent to the assignment. He could have refused but given his current situation it was best to go down to the Marlies, play really well, and wait to be recalled. The Marlies play 3 games this weekend and then are off until they play another 3 in a row starting December 11th.
- Bernier can only be in the AHL for a maximum of 14 days so he will have to be recalled no later than December 16th
- He is entitled to both the salary and benefits he would receive if he were still in the NHL
For Garret Sparks this is basically a dream scenario. At this time last year he was riding the bus down in the ECHL playing for the Orlando Solar Bears (best name in sports?) and now he’s in the NHL. He’ll get at least one more start tonight when the Leafs play the Winnipeg Jets so hopefully he puts together another good effort. Reimer is nearing a return and expects to play tomorrow night. At the very least Sparks can continue to enjoy earning an NHL salary along with the other benefits of being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto Maple Leafs
As far as the actual team is concerned this doesn’t really change their short term plans. James Reimer is this teams starting goalie and will play the majority of the games moving forward. They really didn’t have a choice but to get Bernier playing in an environment where he can have the most success. That wasn’t going to happen any time soon at the NHL level.
Long term there will be some difficult questions to answer. Reimer is set to become a UFA and Sparks will be an RFA, leaving Bernier as the only goalie of the three with a contract going into next season. It would be perfectly fair for Reimer to be looking at a deal similar to the one Bernier currently has at $4.15M and if the Leafs can’t get him to sign before the trade deadline they at least have to entertain the possibility of moving him for draft picks.
Agree? Disagree? What would you do with Bernier? Tweet me your thoughts @_JaredClarkson