Jonathan Bernier is nothing if not amenable.
The 24-year-old Bernier, acquired June 23 to challenge James Reimer for the Maple Leafs crease, readily undertook elements of the famed Proust Questionnaire in a recent conversation with yours truly.
The questionnaire is about 120 years old and not hockey-specific so I modified it for the occasion. In deference to Mr. Proust, I bold-faced the hockey and sports parts.
Tell me about the first goal you gave up in junior hockey?
“My first goal against in junior was scored by my brother, Marc-Andre. I was 16-years-old and playing my first season in Lewiston. My brother was playing with Halifax. Jaroslav Halak who plays for St. Louis didn’t get his visa so he couldn’t come to our first road trip. I stopped a partial breakaway and my brother got the rebound. He gave me the puck at Christmastime. Hell of a guy.”
What’s the quality you most like in people?
What’s the quality you most dislike in people?
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
“I think Tiger Woods is the best athlete I watched growing up. Just the way he handles the media and the pressure. He has a lot of pressure and he is one of the best at controlling it.”
When were you at your happiest?
“When I played hockey, when I played in games. Obviously over the last three years I wasn’t at my happiest, that’s for sure. In the American Hockey League I was playing every game. It was a lot of fun.”
What’s your greatest extravagance?
“I like watches. I’m a car guy. I drive an Audi R8. It was great in LA but now in Toronto… I don’t know how it would do in the snow.”
What’s your greatest accomplishment?
“Hockey. Going to practice. Working hard. Winning a game.”
What’s the biggest win of your career?
“I’d say my first NHL game in London. That was pretty big. I think when you win a championship it’s very big. That’s the one you remember and for me that goes back to junior when I was 18 years old.”
What’s your greatest regret?
“It sounds weird but I don’t think you should have regrets. You should always move forward and not think about the past.”
Who is your hero?
“My brother. He’s older and he always showed me the right path. He still plays in Europe. He’s my hero.”
Who was your hockey model?
“I love watching Marty Brodeur. The way he reads the game is what makes him so good. So is Patrick Roy but I played against Marty so it was pretty special.”
You are listed at six-feet. Was there anyone closer to your size who you modeled your game after?
“To me you can be six feet or six four, I think what matters is the way you stand in net. Look at (Nashville’s six-foot-five goalie) Pekke Rinne and the way he plays. He’s very crunched down in the net and it works for him. For me I’m more upright with my upper body. What’s important is how you stand in the crease, how you present yourself.”
What is your present state of mind?
“Excited and happy. It’s been some pretty crazy days but this is what I’ve been waiting for so I’m very happy now.”