Why “the Mandela incident” was the beginning of Bernier’s end in Toronto

We’ve already learned in this modern-day NHL to plug your ears and start chanting as loud as possible when others describe any particular NHL contract or player as “impossible to trade.”  We know that isn’t true.  Chris Pronger’s deal was traded last summer, and he was weeks away from making a Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech.  David Clarkson was traded by the Maple Leafs to Columbus for a player never expecting to place skate-on-ice in competitive fashion ever again.  We’ll always be surprised by some trades, but we should never be shocked.  Whether always smart or not, NHL general managers are more creative, at least, than any of us think.

Halfway through last year, it was hard to envision the Leafs being able to “get rid” of Jonathan Bernier during the long, arduous, and yet, very necessary march to 30th place. Some that year saw Bernier spend time tending net for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies — his first minor league assignment since 2009-10, when stuck behind Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg (yes!!!) in the Kings system.

The writing was on the wall for Bernier’s time in Toronto, which held so much promise upon his acquisition in the summer of 2013, and for what still ended up being a discounted price. The on-ice performances didn’t help, but the beginning of the end for Bernier in Toronto as either a fan favourite, or even a steady starter happened while he was in a tuxedo, walking the red carpet at a charity event.

My parents were both teachers, and my father, a high school history teacher.  Current events were quite “the thing” in my household from a very early age.  I sometimes kick myself because I don’t tie my children down with ropes and make them watch “the news” at night with me. But sometimes I myself don’t pay enough attention because life gets so busy. But, suffice it to say, I knew who Nelson Mandela was at a very early age.  You may have, as well. 

It doesn’t make someone a bad person for not knowing Mandela’s history, but it does make someone an irreconcilable phony if they are attending a massive charity event in Mandela’s HONOUR, less than a year after his death, and you don’t have a clue as to who he was.

The video is still cringeworthy to watch, but while attending an MLSE event before a Raptors game, Jonathan Bernier put his foot in his mouth deeper than most athletes or members of the media, or, yes, even politicians (!) are ever able to.  The event was called “Giants Of Africa,” spearheaded specifically by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri, born in Nigeria, and greatly appreciative of Mandela’s influence on culture, sport, and nationalism throughout not just South Africa, but an entire continent of countries.

There is still considerable debate on how “prepped” the celebrity attendees should have been about who Mandela was and what his lasting powerful legacy is. But what couldn’t have been foreseen is how ill-prepared Bernier was to roam a red carpet, teeming with cameras and reporters, just looking for “tape” of very famous-to-moderately famous human beings saying warm (and yes, accurate!) things about one of the most iconic and recognizable humans of the past 150 years.

Here is the then starting goalie of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ initial attempt at explaining what Nelson Mandela meant to him:

“Well obviously growing up, he’s one of the most known athletes in the world. A lot of impact in any kind of sport that he did, and even playing hockey, everyone knows him, right? From being the type of person that he was off the ice and on the ice. It’s unfortunate that he passed a year ago, but, he changed a lot while he was with us, and he’s a tremendous guy.”

No. No. No. It can’t be real.  It was, and still is.  Bernier gave it another go with another camera and microphone moments later:

“I just think the way he met that is, you know, to me growing up playing sports with my parents was something really special cause I could share, try to be a leader, try to share things and things like that where you know when you’re a group sport you need to do that right? Be as one, and I think that’s what he met, and I think sports is really powerful. A lot of people obviously love to play the game, it can be hockey, basketball football, a lot of people watch that, and I think that’s kind of the message I personally got from the…”

We’ve all been there but usually in our dreams.  I have them where I have a microphone in front of me during my radio show, and nothing sensible comes out (yes, yes, I get it — you heard that show many times!).  Ok, let’s try one more common nightmare — we’re writing an exam for a high school or university grade, and we haven’t been to class in months.  The point being, you can’t do worse than Bernier did. Though my show took opinions for a couple days more on Bernier’s utterly cringeworthy ignorance than any hockey games played that December weekend, the bottom line is his quote utterly embarrassed his hockey club, Maple Leafs management, and people notably higher up at MLSE.  Though Bernier made a public apology for sounding as he sounded, no one bought the concept that he just “had a bad day” or “froze up”.  Only he walked himself into that situation.  There are things in life where I explain, “you just have to know” — and this was one of them.

I know I heard from hockey fans who didn’t think this was “a big deal.”  You’re entitled to that opinion, but let me assure you, Bernier’s comments were a source of considerable embarrassment to the Maple Leafs, the Raptors, and it set Brendan Shanahan into a mode of damage control.  Whether it’s fair or not, his starting goalie got more attention at an event for a global icon (once the US-based blogs like Deadspin got a hold of the story) than the event or the global icon himself did that weekend.  

On a Maple Leafs team that was being scorned quite regularly by its fans and those regularly covering them, this embarrassing episode helped no one.  Weeks earlier, “Salutegate” was all the rage with debates about whether the Leafs’ leadership group had decided to snub fans intentionally after a rare home-ice win.  The season had begun with many home losses culminating in Leafs sweaters being tossed onto the ice as gestures of utter frustration and vehement dislike of the product (and, yes, the players).  

Bernier also never became warmly embraced by fans that happened to be big supporters of James Reimer, as a goalie or as a person.  It’s not about one guy being a better person than the other, but Reimer dragged an underwhelming team into their only playoff appearance in the past twelve years.  When the management at the time felt his efforts weren’t enough, Reimer was quickly supplanted via the Bernier trade to a likely backup scenario. As demonstrated by the five-year deal Reimer just received in Florida, it took but a few short years for Reimer to become a more valued goaltender around the league than Jonathan Bernier.

Look, some will see this as “piling on” Bernier.  Some people want their sports mixed with, well, only sports.  But I think we’ve all witnessed famous people shill and promote causes and charities and people, and they haven’t the foggiest idea why or what it’s all about.  You and me both have probably been invited to or paid to play in charity golf outings, and we think we could stump in front of a reporter for 30-40 seconds about why we’re there and what the cause means to us, but we might struggle more than we think.

Still, this wasn’t that.  Bernier can’t accept the invite to this well-publicized event about a monumentally important historical figure and not know who the hell he is.  Can’t.  Cannot.  This isn’t a camera crew blitzing into the Leafs’ room after a morning skate, when, say, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter passes away (good news — he hasn’t) and hitting up American-born James van Riemsdyk and asking him about Carter’s legacy.  You do get the difference, right? 

Either way, even if it’s a small group of people, I reside in that particular group that felt Bernier never was able to escape his instantly-gained state of infamy after this.  Efforts were made to trade Jonathan Bernier last offseason, and with no sensible takers, the Leafs protected their asset with a two-year extension and hoped for a bounce back season.  It didn’t happen.

Yes, you’d be a cold soul not feeling at least something for Bernier, and I still do reading those humiliating quotes.  There’s a different line I cringe about nearly every time I read them or see the video, but the balance of his time as a Maple Leaf truly began to tick away in the aftermath of that evening and the fallout from it.  He’d play another 60-plus games with the Leafs over the course of the next sixteen months, but he’s probably as thrilled for a fresh start elsewhere as anyone. After that incident, I asked many who would know off the record if it essentially meant it was impossible for Bernier to be part of any significant rebuild or push back towards a return to glory for the team, and to a man, all acknowledged, it played a major role in an eventual separation. 

Though I can be critical of the Bernier mistake, it’s fascinating that this issue was debated then and still can be now with such passion, and yet, we shouldn’t regard Bernier as a bad person, just a guy who thought he could feign an understanding for the camera and got burned.  Ultimately, a botched quote isn’t in the same stratosphere as, say, a domestic violence arrest, sexual assault accusation, or DUI arrest, and I’ll root for Bernier in Anaheim to play better than he did here, and have more success than he did here.  Mistakes are to be learned from, no matter how embarrassing they are.

  • Harold Ballard

    The fact that he didn’t say “going to a Nelson Mandela event today, let me Google him for a quick sec just in case someone asks me who he is” to himself but said “I’ll just wing it” shows what kinda guy he potentially is. That’s next level ignorance. Maybe that wasn’t his only flaw.

    • not_SorjeBalming

      I remember reading about last summer and the new goaltender coach being hired to help Bernier and Reimer. It looked like Reims took to the task with a good attitude that it might make him better, while Bernie was not so “into” it from the reports I read.

      If he cannot even spend 5min on google before going to an event like this…are we suprised that he wasn’t working on his game with the most fervor??

      I think it just shows the kind of lazy attitude that Shanny no longer wants on the team.

      • Muskoka's Own

        I’m a big Reimer fan over Bernier, and have close ties to South Africa… But there is no way we can know what his attitude and work ethic is like on the ice!

    • Capt.Jay

      I often wondered after that how egotistical he must’ve been to not even feel the need to research. That speaks volumes to a persons character. Then I wondered how hard a guy like that must be to coach.

  • CMpuck

    It was funny not sure why people don’t leave it at that, countless rants of people ****ing themselves off over it, knowing who Nelson Mandela is has zero impact of my life, it’s as useless as the majority of things you learn in school.

    Bernier has a marketable trade, high school teachers can’t relate, they know trivial things instead.

    • BarelyComments

      Really?… You can’t possibly be trying to say that what a professional hockey player does contributes more to society than what a high school teacher does…

      I’m as hockey obsessed as anyone else on this blog but I’m not that stupid…

      • CMpuck

        Contributes more to society? Bernier owes ‘society’ nothing, he has a more marketable skill so that makes him better than a hs teacher. Most teachers are disposable that’s why they need a union to protect their employment.

        Again, just throwing darts at these constant smug pieces about Bernier not knowing Mandela. Wake me when there is a show about a teacher’s wife, oh wait, no one is interested in 4-6s.

    • mrBacon

      He had (he’s dead now) zero impact on your life because you won the cosmic lottery and weren’t born in a country that could throw you in jail for 30 years over nothing (Being black). He was a significant person to millions of people, your statement shows that you know little about the world around you or the lessons that can be learned through the misfortune of another. Because of Mandela, there was phrase, “I’m not playing Sun City”. Look it up, it changed a lot of things. The world has regressed since then, but for a while it looked like there would be a renascence. I grew up with dumbass teachers too, but the Iron Curtain and Apartheid were part of it too. They both disappeared at roughly the same time, but I fear the renascence is long over, and failure to learn from the mistakes of the past, means you are doomed to repeat them. Modern day example of Sun City, the BDS movement, similar tactics to force change, that might be relevant to you, maybe not. He went from political prisoner to President, he was at the very least a notable person form the very recent past. Bernier should have known who he was, and had the balls to ask or admit that he didn’t. I hope you know who he was.

      • CMpuck

        No one is criticizing Nelson Mandela, it does amuse me that my fellow ‘lottery winners’ (such a bs liberal way to put it) use Mandela’s name to beat their ego, tres cute. Thanks for the McUndergrad rant, I bet you write great paint by numbers essays.

        To the original point, Bernier works in a meritocracy in which he’s quite near the top of his craft, there isn’t a teacher in Canada that works in a meritocracy.

        • Gary Empey

          A teacher in Ontario makes less than the cheapest-paid professional player on an NHL.

          Both together make way less than majority owners of Rogers or Bell who were mostly born into money and whose ‘merit’ has nothing to do with it at all.

          The merit of a teacher is hard to determine – you can’t put points and assists on what a teacher teaches.

          But you can stop blaming people for earning a living and fighting to keep their job which is what you seem to be doing.

          How your envy of the teachers’ union became ‘the original point of this discussion’ is beyond me.

          • CMpuck

            Envy? My father was a teacher, a union rep at that, my brother has been a teacher for a decade. I had the networks available to me and really, who can’t get into teacher’s college post grad? It’s a walk in the park. I choose a better career pursuing a trade instead (and EI between contracts affords plenty of time to enjoy those earnings). Envy? The level of insipid butthurt in these exchanges, please keep telling me how the world works child 🙂

            As for the Bell/Rogers owners, when did I say they’re paid on merit, or have job security on merit?

            Social status, income, disposable time and aesthetics those are my standards of judging people but I’m like others just honest.

          • Gary Empey

            What? My tax dollars go to subsidizes you’re lifestyle? What kind of weak sauce Anti-Liberal are you? Sucking off the govt teat. You sound like those money grubbing teachers. Pull yourself up by your own boot straps and all that, someone who criticizes Liberals is a massive hypocrite for being on the govt dole. I’m so sorry for thinking you weren’t a pinko Liberal. Welcome to the machine.

          • CMpuck

            “Social status, income, disposable time and aesthetics those are my standards of judging people but I’m like others just honest.”

            So, people with money, status and beauty are the ones you judge favourably and the people that don’t have those things are the ones you judge unfavourably? – strange way to look at the world indeed. Good luck finding friends or love that way.

    • TGT23

      I’m going to partly agree with CM here.

      The ONLY thing knowing who Nelson Medela is has ever done for the majority of Leafs Nation is given them some kind of smug, dbaggy, self-righteousness when looking their nose down on Bernier.

      Bernier became an NHL goalie and a fairly good one ALL without knowing who he is.

      But somehow you have rhe high ground to look your noses down on him?

      Just another in the ling list of points that prove T.O fans never gave the guy a fair shake. Had this been Reimer you’d have all gone “Aw shucks, look how cute he is not knowing something. Just want to pinch his cheeks”.

      Get of it. Yourselves. And move on.

      • Jeremy Ian

        Not everyone is excoriating Bernier for paying no attention in school, though it’s just sad, or even that he was clueless while playing for the Leafs about one of the momentous events of his times. We might lament Bernier — and that’s our own personal opinion of him, not a judgement about whether he’s fit to be a public face of a great team. (And please, spare us the nonsense about Bernier being “just an athlete” — whatever double standard that’s supposed to imply — when he goes to public functions all the time). We are all pretty accustomed to the foibles of our public figures.

        It’s the fact that he:

        1. went to an event to celebrate Mandela without bothering to figure out what the subject was;

        2. happily waltzed in front of the cameras, not once, but twice, to blather nonsense about, of all people, a great man.

        Greg’s point is that we all probably would have excused this stuff if Bernier wasn’t becoming such a source of disappointment already.

        In this context, Bernier might have been clued in enough to know that if he can’t keep our/management’s confidence in him on ice, when given a silver platter to exonerate himself in a public event, seize the opportunity. Instead, he did precisely the opposite. That’s the point of the story about his “beginning of the end.”

        The contrast with how we respected Reimer’s demeanor could not be more stark.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Author here is beating a dead horse as well as being terribly cruel to Jon Bernier. I don’t see any positive contribution to this blog coming from a nasty, vicious contrived dialogue such as this. Here’s a stat for you that may give you some understanding of factual ignorance in the general population. Year after year, roughly 15% of all American adults don’t know the name of the United States president. And if you asked who Nelson Mandela was, I can assure you that many more than 15% of American adults wouldn’t have a clue. So let it rest, suggest this article be expunged from this website, and go do penance. Jonathan has already been totally humiliated, and this sort of piling on after he has been traded is cheap, cruel, and unbecoming of The Leaf Nation.

    • nobonusfornonus

      look at the sign behind him you moron. it’s an event for Mandela. if 15 percent of Americans were standing with the President right behind them they’d damn well know who he is.

  • Jeremy Ian

    In revisiting this whole embarrassing episode I have to ask myself … where was the MLSE PR department? When you host an event such as this … and have your athletes attend … then I would think that the PR department would be sure to either brief or send out documentation on the event with a number of talking points and factoids to use in interviews. Is there any evidence as to whether or not this was done? Because if it wasn’t, then there is as much, if not more, blame that should have been placed on the organization instead of the athlete. I could see Shanahan going that route more than moving towards trading said athlete.

    I work for an organization where I have to speak to media and make appearances and answer questions. Our PR/Marketing department makes sure I am well prepared for the types of questions I may receive and also provide talking points to make sure we get our message across for whatever the event is. I would be flabbergasted to learn that MLSE does not do the same. In addition, every new employee goes through media training with refreshers every few years.

    We hear about the kids getting this in development camp and I am pretty sure the team members get something similar in training camp.

    So in summary, should Bernier have known more and done some background work before attending … maybe. Should the NLSE PR/Marketing department have provided materials on the event to their athletes attending … absolutely! If they did and Bernier ignored it or didn’t bother to read it … then yes shame on him. He never struck me as the brightest bulb in the locker room.

  • CMpuck

    I find it hard to believe the Mandela incident played anything more than a minor factor in Bernier’s eventual exit from the Leafs organization. I find it more plausible the PR department was reprimanded (or changes made regarding event preparation). Bernier is out because after 3 years in Toronto he failed to become a dependable #1 goaltender. Yes, he did have a good first season and it’s true the Leafs teams he’s played on were poor with a flawed lineup, however, his stats were near the bottom of the league for starting goaltenders and he let in too many soft goals that deflated the team. James Reimer’s stats were much better (at least this past season) while playing on the same team.

  • Jeremy Ian

    I think you are probably right, Greg. Bernier had an impressive first year on a truly awful team, and his upward curve seemed to bend after that; after the Mandela incident, it just plunged.

    I feel sad for the guy, partly because he got caught out (his is now a living nightmare he’ll never be able to forget). But it’s also sad because the episode is an index of what Bernier doesn’t know — which is probably quite a lot. I agree with @Steve above; it probably never occurred to Bernier that there is something to know.

    Mandela died in December 2013.

    OK, so Bernier didn’t learn much history, and the rest of the world might just be some blurry space for him. But when Mandela died, there was no greater moral figure on the planet. The Toronto media was saturated with obituaries at the time.

    @CMPuck may think high school is worthless and teachers are disposable. But it might be that a bit more appreciation for what high school teachers gave Bernier the chance to learn might have helped him be a little more aware in 2013, and two years later went his vapid but well-coiffed head only too happily revealed its emptiness to the microphone.

    Cringeworthy, totally.

  • Jeremy Ian

    this was truly the beginning of the end for jonathan bernier. the sheer ignorance to not even google nelson mandela when you knew you’d be going to an event honour the humanitarian is disgusting and arrogant. his career went downhill in flames after this and it proved once again what we already knew: he doesn’t have the mental fortitude to push past adversity and rise above it. he doesn’t have the mentality to succeed as a #1 goalie. he has all of the tools without the toolbox. reimer has the toolbox and some tools. he has a high sense of mental fortitude and that’s why he succeeded in toronto for the most part. he rose above all odds and adversity to become a #1 goalie for the leafs and now the panthers see it too. that’s why bernier will always be a backup. he’ll never be a #1. he’s mentally weak on and off of the ice. it wasn’t only his personality that turned people against him, it was multiple mental errors and never taking responsibility as he often chose to point out defensive mistakes and a rebuild when in reality, reimer faced the same issues and always took full responsibility whether it as his fault or not. good thing his new coach loves him because he’d never get a shot elsewhere. he’s back in good old randy’s arms as a backup while reimer is the #1 starter for the rising panthers. now who’s the #1 and who’s the backup nonis and carlyle? how times have changed. i always knew things would work out and the goalies would be properly assessed and it finally happened. reimer has great value. bernier has none. never should have even traded for a goalie when we needed defence but i’m happy reimer found a great team and revived his career.

  • CMpuck

    I don’t think the typical hockey fan knows much about Mandela. I had to look up who he was. From my friend, it was all you older guys and social justice media warriors who seem to care about this.

    • Jeremy Ian

      It might partially be based on age demographics, but I would think most people learn of Nelson Mandela in high school these days. Apartheid is one of the most important social issues of the 20th century and is on par with the civil rights movement in the United States.

    • Muskoka's Own

      The typical person does and should have at least basic knowledge about Nelson Mandela, hockey fan or not. Not knowing anything about him is probably not something to advertise!

  • CMpuck

    It’s funny to me that no one here is admitting that they too didn’t (and probably still don’t) know who Melson Mendela was. I think the big secret is that athletes as well as their fans (may as well throw in the bloggers here) are not the brightest cookies out there and should certainly not be playing the blame game when it comes to their knowledge of world history.

    Athletes, if they’re any good at their craft, are rather early in their lives channelled away from learning about Nelson Mendela and into perfecting their physical skills and really shouldn’t be expected to comment on world affairs or meaning of certain freedom fighters to the struggle against racism, inequality or apartheid. It is a sad world we live in when someone like Johnatan Bernier’ opinion on Nelson Mendela is more highly valued than that of a history teacher.

    Regardless, I think this article misses the point. I don’t think Bernier was traded because he failed to answer the grade 9 history question. I think he was traded because he wasn’t ‘a good man’ in Mike Babcock’s books. ‘A good man’ supports his teammates and doesn’t remind media of Reimer’s breakdown in the fateful game 7 after losing his team a game by letting in soft goals or look for all and any excuses to deflect the blame for his team failing away from himself and onto his teammates. That’s what he did and that’s why he’s gone.

    He’s still a pretty good goalie and Carlyle and Nonis know it and that’s why they fleeced us in this trade.

    A similar story can be told about Reimer who, along with everyone else on the ice wearing blue and white that fateful night, never took responsibility for failing at bringing home the 4:1 lead with ten minutes to go. A game against Detroit in which Reimer was pulled for letting in softies and then rolled his eyes at his coach also comes to mind as another example of why he is gone.

    Some of the elders such as Michael Langlois over on vintageleafmemories.com saw the disaster coming as soon as he heard Carlyle mention the 1a/1b scenario while others (like myself and the coach at the time) thought it was going to work out just fine. It turns out Michael was right at least in this particular instance. Reimer and Bernier couldn’t handle the situation like ‘good men’ and that’s why they are gone. Andersen, on the other hand, managed to survive a very similar situation on Anaheim and that’s why he’s here.

    I hope this also means that Andersen is the best of the three goalies but I fear that that actually doesn’t follow. They are all good goalies. Reimer and Bernier couldn’t handle the pressure in Toronto and now they are playing under the palm trees. Andersen lucked into the spot between the pipes in the great white north’s hockey Mecca (go look up what Mecca is hockey fans) and I hope it works out for him and us.

    Nothing to do with the great South African freedom fighter and martyr whatsoever.

    • CMpuck

      Edit: I wrote this before ‘leafoniin’ piped up with his comment – good on you bud for having the courage to admit that you didn’t know about Mendela. I would love to be able to say the same but I happen to have a M.A. in World History and have studied apartheid specifically in the course of my studies.

  • SEER

    Two things.

    1) Props to Hal Bal. who does not Google?

    2) CMpunk i hope you have a weird sense of humour. What Mandela did might not have effected you but for sure changed the lives of millions of Africans…. Moderators should delete comments like that.

  • SEER

    I bet if you asked him in private, that the Habs would be his favourite team… I wish him all the best…, but am really glad he’s gone from here…

    —————

    If you didn’t catch the Prospect Scrimmage games, there’s some good highlights on the Leafs You-Tube Channel.. Here’s another new montage, for one of our 2016 Draft picks..

    J.D. Greenway /
    Defense / shoots L /
    Born Apr 27 1998 / Potsdam, NY /
    18 yrs. ago /
    Height *6.05 / Weight *214

    RECENT STATS:

    2015-16 – Team USA USNTDP Juniors – USHL
    25 Games… 2 Goals… 8 Assists… 10 Points… +12
    ———-
    2015-16 – USA National U-18 Team – USDP
    64 Games… 5 Goals… 23 Assists… 28 Points… +/- 0
    ———-
    2015-16 – Team USA U-18 International Juniors – WJC-U18
    7 Games… 1 Goal… 6 Assists… 7 Points… +16

    Green-Man-Unleashed-D : James (J.D.) Greenway 2015-16 Highlights – TML (HD)

    —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o73RY584NZg

  • CMpuck

    Also, note the backdrop behind Bernier in the picture above – the organizers of the event did indeed attempt to turn Mendela into some kind of ‘sports’ personality. It is indeed pretty weird how a bunch of millionaire athletes were made to somehow be relevant in a celebration of Nelson Mensela’s life.

    • Capt.Jay

      Mandela had a lot to do with sports. Read about the Springbox team and how he saved them from destruction after being discriminated by those very people. He spent decades in jail for his beliefs only to hold no ill will towards his oppressors. His reach spread throughout the sporting world just like his political stance did.

      In South Africa, one sport United a nation because of what he did. Your comment is very irresponsible.

  • CMpuck

    I don’t honestly think the Mandela incident had anything to do with it at all.He was expected to do a job and couldn’t handle it.Nothing more nothing less.

  • Gary Empey

    For me the trading of Bernier is not all the complicated. Bernier could be quite good making hard saves.

    It was the number of soft goals he let in. Everyone knows the puck will take a strange bounce and completely fool a goalie occasionally.

    With Bernier it got to the point it was happening every game. It totally deflated the team. I can recall the Leafs pressing for 7/8 minutes. You could feel it was just a question of time before we score. The other team would come up the ice get over the red line and throw a shot on goal to make a line change. They scored. Everyone was shocked Bernier missed such a routine save.

    Something had to be done.

    As for the Mandela thing. Folks shouldn’t be that surprised these days. I notice a lot of people never read a newspaper, or listen or watch the news at all.

    They also have zero interest in politics.

    In a democracy they have the perfect right to do so.

    • nobonusfornonus

      if you are willfully ignorant of the reality of people and events that rule your cozy little world you will lose the democracy you so take for granted. you’ll wind up with another Harper.

      past is prologue.

      the band was doing handstands
      but no one listened or gave a damn
      staring at their smartphones
      looking for the promised land.

      cmon down Mr Punk you are so inspiring today.

    • nobonusfornonus

      if you are willfully ignorant of the reality of people and events that rule your cozy little world you will lose the democracy you so take for granted. you’ll wind up with another Harper.

      past is prologue.

      the band was doing handstands
      but no one listened or gave a damn
      staring at their smartphones
      looking for the promised land.

      cmon down Mr Punk you are so inspiring today.

  • Gary Empey

    Having a degree in Canadian history I get where Greg is coming from. But I totally agree that M.L.S.E. obviously should have made certain that any athlete in the organisation was informed thoroughly about Mandela’s life if they attended this celebration of the man’s life.

    I am often amused with the man on the street interviews especially the one’s at Ivy league universities in which numerous students can’t even recognize the vice president or George Washington. Same situation applies in Canada. I felt sorry for Bernier who sadly came across so poorly.

    I recently for fun did a history questionaire and was disappointed that at my ancient age, yes I remember the leafs winning cups, I missed the answers on a few questions.

    I’m certain Bernier learned a valuable lesson, hopefully M.L.S.E. management also learned a lesson.

  • Gary Empey

    There are quite a long list of charities MLSE either supports or partners with. Doesn’t it also say something about a player’s character, for attending them. Having a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player at your charity event is a very good way to raise awareness, attendance, and funding.

    Canada did copy Mandela’s idea of creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. It is still working today. That will have some impact on most if not all Canadian’s.

  • BigDeal

    He didn’t play well enough in Toronto to get away with being such an empty suit. He had a chance to redefine himself afterwards with his on ice performance and it didn’t happen.

    The sad part is that it had to be the subject of Nelson Mandela that his ignorance of the world was exposed on. I’m sure he also knows nothing of every other figure in recent history. The fact that Mandela was a left wing icon and media darling gave the story legs. If Bernier, instead, had not know who Ronald Reagan was, nobody would give a crap.

  • nobonusfornonus

    Bring it to a rest folks.Bernier is no longer here and what he did is in the past.If he was a top goaltender in the league it would have been overlooked by the management.The fact is he was not and was traded.

  • CMpuck

    While Mr.Mandela certainly endured injustice in his later years, let us not forget that as a young man he was a murdering terrorist and he and his ANC compatriots murdered over 10,000 people of all races and ethnic backgrounds.

    Yes, he became a legendary figure as an older man.

    But, as a young man, he was a murderer and a terrorist.