Looking back at goalies
Well, let’s go with the big stuff first, with Terry Murray talking today about the goaltending situation. Did he play Jonathan Quick too much? Is Quick the unquestioned No. 1 goalie coming into training camp? Will Bernier get a chance? It all gets answered here…
Question: With some hindsight now, on the goalie situation, what are your thoughts? You had a plan for the goalies, then about a month into the season you said you erased that plan. Is there anything, looking back, that you wished had played out differently in that situation?
MURRAY: “I think, if I remember correctly going back, saying that the plan changed because of Quick’s solid play. He was tremendous for us. The importance, to me, of establishing a No. 1 goaltender, with this organization, was, right from the beginning, was very important. It’s gone through a lot of different looks at that position over the years, and we always seem to go to, that’s the one position that’s been lacking. To quickly put Quick into that No. 1 position and go with him, and let him take this hockey club as far as he could go, to me, was very important. I don’t regret that. He played well. He played phenomenal at times. He got us into the playoffs, and in the early part of the playoffs he played tremendous. Going through the first couple games in Vancouver, we were on our heels in those first couple games. In the first game, in particular, we end up with a five-minute power play, but they were coming at us. They were pinching, they were pressing and every time they got the puck, they were on the attack, and you’re wondering, `Jeez,’ but Quick was there and he played extremely well.”
Question: Do you think you played Quick too much? There are stats about goalies who played 4,000 minutes not fairing well, and Quick made a huge jump in minutes this season. Do you think you played him too much?
MURRAY: “Maybe played him a little too much down the last month. But at that point, I had already made a commitment to him, and maybe had backed away, a little too far, from Ersberg being able to jump in and get some rhythm to his game and give us those solid games that would have spelled relief for Quick. And I thought about that, long before we got to the end of the year. Should I take Quick out? Should I do this? And everything started to — getting into the last 20 games of the season — getting to become such critical games for us. You want to win. You’re looking at finishing in the top four, so you have home ice. You want to get your team ready for the playoffs. You want to get the goaltender ready for the playoffs. There are a lot of things I thought about, as we kept going. If you remember back, I talked about wanting to finish as high as we can. We had an opportunity there to finish in fourth place. Now, at the end, we’re pushing to get to fifth place. Once Phoenix had grabbed onto fourth, we wanted to play them in the early going, in my mind, because of travel. Being an hour away, I thought travel was a huge part of the early rounds of the playoffs, with rest. That was something that we kept pushing for, and it came right down to the very last game, where the opportunity was still there.”
Question: Is there any way you see him playing 72 games next season?
MURRAY: “Well, you never say never. I think now that he has showed his level of play, and that he is a No. 1 goaltender, first of all that’s very important. Now that is settled, and there will be no discussion about it next year going into the training camp. He’s our guy. He’s our No. 1 goaltender. Then we’ll see where the competition goes from there, and who is going to be, from that point, the No. 2 guy. I’m not going to carry three goaltenders. I know Bernier had a great year. He’s been phenomenal. He’s going to maybe be the MVP down there. He played two great games, important games, for us this year, in Nashville and against Vancouver, in wins. So he’s going to be there battling for that position, for that No. 2 job. So we’ll see how that shakes out. Again, I’m not going to have three goaltenders around. If it ends up being with Bernier earning the No. 2 position over Ersberg, I know, in what I saw this year in those two important games, that he’s a very capable goalie.”