When you think about underwhelming seasons for the New Jersey Devils, many will think about two names: Michael Ryder and Steve Bernier. The difference is Bernier was a known commodity for Devils fans. He was coming into his third season with the team. He looked like he was getting better with every season he wore a red and black sweater.
In 2013-14, all of that advancement was thrown down the toilet. The mistakes that had the Devils wary about signing him back in 2011 came to fruition three years later. The entire fourth line, with Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter, had a bad season, but Bernier was by far the worst.
He had the worst plus/minus on the teams. At minus-15, that is worst number posted since the abomination of a season in 2010-11, when Ilya Kovalchuk was -26. It seemed that every time the other team scored a big goal, Bernier was on the ice. He was just unplayable at the end of games.
Then you can look at his shooting percentage to add insult to injury. Of all the forwards in the NHL who actually scored a goal, there are only seven players in the entire league that have a worse shooting percentage. There are roughly 450-500 forwards who get to play in any given season. There were only seven who shot worse than Bernier’s 2.9 percent. While many could say that luck might have to do with it, there comes a point when you have to realize you are doing something wrong.
Bernier went from a likely promotion to the second or third line, to being a guy you don’t even want to resign. You have to look pretty far to see a fall from grace like this in the Devils organization. For that, you have to give Bernier the only failing grade for the team. It is sad, but with the hype surrounding him, and the impending results, that is the only grade you can give him.
Season Grade: F