New York Islanders ex-Goalie Jean-Francois Berube Opens Up

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: Jean-Francois Berube
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: Jean-Francois Berube

New York Islanders former number three goalie Jean-Francois Berube discussed his time with the Isles. And it’s not the most flattering for the team.

The 2016-17 New York Islanders season was overshadowed by a number of errors by GM Garth Snow. He played a risky game in free agency and failed. He kept a head coach longer than he should have. And he kept three goalies on the roster for a second season.

Let’s be clear no team keeps three healthy goalies on the roster. And if they do, it doesn’t last past a few games before one is shipped back down to the AHL. That’s generally the shelf life of a three-goalie system. But Garth Snow and the New York Islanders decided to keep up the charade for two straight years.

They kept Jean-Francois Berube, Thomas Greiss, Jaroslav Halak on the roster through 2015-16 and 2016-17 season.

It caused a huge stir not only amongst the fan base but within the team itself when Halak and Berube’s agent Allan Walsh took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the goaltending system.

After being finally relieved of his hold in the New York Islanders system, Berube was sent to Vegas as part of their expansion draft. And is now in Chicago trying to land a backup gig to Corey Crawford. So The Athletic Chicago’s Scott Powers caught up with him to talk about his busy offseason.

Realistic Opportunities

In his answers to Powers, Berube reveals exactly what we all thought. Including the confusion. The Isles didn’t want to lose Berube on waivers for…reasons.

SP: When you did get opportunities, how realistic did you have to be about your own play after sitting out so long? Sort of like you hope this goes well, but you can’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t?Berube: At the same time, I knew they wouldn’t be sending me down. (laughs) Like I said, I was going one day at a time. I didn’t know when I was going to play. It could have been a month, two months. I was always ready and I backed up a lot of games. There’s always a possibility of jumping in. Like we saw it happen seven or eight times throughout the year where I had to come in. So, you always have to be ready.

He laughs about the situation. He’s literally pulled the “in ‘X’ days we’ll all laugh about this”. We all knew that the Islanders didn’t want to lose Berube in waivers. But we expected that Berube would have a bit more insight into the situation. You know, because it affected him.

But it seems like he had no idea why the Isles thought they’d lose him. And then laughs about it. Because even Berube knows how absurd that sounds.

What NHL team is going to claim a career 0.900 SV% and 3.00 GAA NHL goaltender? No one. And what team in their right mind is going to lose sleep over losing such a goaltender? Apparently, the Isles were that team.

And did the New York Islanders talk to Berube about this? What their plan was, why they were being so cold with this young players future and development? Apparently not.

SP: Did the Islanders have conversations with you about the situation? It’s not that common to be a third goalie.Berube: No, they had to know it was bad for my development, too. We can sit here and find a million reasons. I think at the end of the day they were just scared to lose me on waivers. They had (Christopher) Gibson who was probably the next guy to be called up if there was an injury, so he was injured. I don’t think they had anyone who was able to come up, and I ended up in this weird situation where I was kind of a prisoner there. But you know again, I respect their decision. I wouldn’t take anything back. I think I can use that as an experience now. Being a backup, it’s hard. Sometimes you can go a week or two without seeing a game. Now I know what it takes to get ready and get prepared to play a game.

This doesn’t look good. Good on Berube for rolling with the punches on this, but this entire situation was easily avoidable.

Wasting away a players future for no reason puts a bad stamp on an organization. The New York Islanders already have a hard enough time attracting free agents or players with modified no-trade clause deals. Why add this layer to the mix?

Not only is the GM cold, something I’m sure most NHL players are used to at this point. But his coldness doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason.

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We’ve always maintained that this entire three goalie situation was an illogical situation that was self-made. The Berube Q&A with Powers just confirms it and even makes it all look worse.