You know the hit. Steve Bernier hit Rob Scuderi from behind, sending the Kings defenseman careening head-first into the boards. You know the result, too. Bernier got a five-minute major, the Kings scored three times and Game 6 was all but decided. Bernier felt terrible enough about the hit that he had difficulty sleeping.
“For sure I lost sleep. It was very tough,” Bernier recalled. “Not only is it my dream to win the Stanley Cup. It’s my teammates’ dream, the fans’ dream, my family’s dream. We were so close. And to have that weight of the hit after which they scored three goals on the power play is not fun.
“I’d do it differently if I had a chance, but I don’t have that chance.”
His teammates and coaches rallied around Bernier, assuring him they didn’t blame him for what happened.
“I think I addressed it that night briefly with him,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “My thought walking out of that rink, and I believe every player on our team had the same opinion, was we laid no fault at his feet for that. At the end of the day he was asked to do what we had asked him to do the entire playoffs. Get in on the forecheck and finish your hits. It was an unfortunate play.”
Corey GriffinI’m hoping there’s no residual hatred/anger directed at Bernier next Tuesday during the home opener, although I suspect there might be some people that still hold a grudge against him or his actions. The fact that the season is starting three months later also probably helped alleviate whatever bad feelings were still floating around. Yes, Bernier’s hit probably sealed Game 6 and the Cup finals, but the Devils put themselves in that position by going down 3-0. Really, it’s a hit that a lot of players made last year and it’s an unbelievably dangerous one at that. The only hope is that situations like Bernier’s help to change the NHL culture when it comes to defenseless players along the boards, particularly on the forecheck.