Question: Jonathan Quick is here and doing well. If you would have asked for predictions, as to which young goalie would be here having success, they probably would have said Bernier…
LOMBARDI: “Not here. You didn’t hear that from me. I told you, Quick is underestimated. You didn’t hear that from the hockey people. The point was, let it play out. People forget, too, that Quick is a little older, because he did two years of college. It’s real hard (to make the jump from junior). Mason has done it, but that’s an aberration, in the way young goaltenders come along.
“Nabokov, Kiprusoff and Toskala. I’ve said it before. Warren Strelow (former Sharks goalie coach) had those goalies. (He said,) `Don’t evaluate them. Make them better every day.’ Don’t go around saying, `Bernier is going to be our No. 1,’ because we don’t know. I remember (Strelow) standing up…he had all that experience and we were sitting around in our goaltending meeting talking. He said, `It doesn’t matter. Don’t be making predictions. We don’t know. We don’t know how mentally tough they are. It’s our job to make them better every day.’ And we hit on all three of those guys.
“So, people ask me about Bernier or Quick. I don’t know. It might be Zatkoff. Now, does it surprise me that Quick is ahead? No. He has done two years of college and a year and a half of minors. I would have preferred two, but he’s more mature physically and he’s a hell of an athlete. I’ve always said that he’s our best athlete. Jon (Bernier) was our best technical goalie but very few people downstairs are as good athletically as Jon (Quick). And like I said, he has done the time in the minors that Bernier hasn’t done yet. So is it totally surprising that he’s here? No.”
Question: Do you have to talk to Bernier quite a bit?
LOMBARDI: “Yeah. He’s going through a little bit of the Kiprusoff thing now. He’s struggling with, `Oh, last year I was going to Hollywood parties.’ `What happened?’ `Am I a failure?”’
Question: You have to talk him off the ledge a little bit?
LOMBARDI: “It’s all part of it. It’s mental toughness. If you’re not going to be mentally tough enough to get through this now, how are you going to be when it’s a playoff game? What about when it’s Game 7 of the playoffs? This is the part about development, about the minor leagues, that people want to skip over. They want to make stars out of these young players before they’ve done a damn thing in the league. This is all a part of mental toughness.
“Nabokov almost went home. Kiprusoff, same thing. Talk about being on a ledge. Nabokov, in his second year in the minors, almost was ready to go home. He wasn’t playing well and things weren’t going his way. Shields and Vernon were up (with the Sharks) and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. He was a week away from going back to Russia. We didn’t allow it. `Hang in there. Too bad.’ It’s just like when Dad doesn’t give you the keys to the car and he makes you study. Then you come back 10 years later and say it’s the best thing that ever happened.
“These guys do the same thing, and Jon (Bernier) is going through that now. You can tell him, and he doesn’t believe it, just like any other young player. He’s just going to have to figure it out. But he’s got loads of ability. The other thing with Jon is, a lot of times with these kids, it’s a smooth ride. Top player in junior hockey, first-round pick, really smooth. Then he plays those games in Europe (last season) and it’s, `Oh, this is great. I can play in the show.’ There’s a big difference between playing in the show and winning in the show.”