Saturday, October 06, 2012

Daniel Berthiaume

They will go down together in Winnipeg Jets history as the team's most popular goaltending tandem. Just not necessarily the best duo.

For three years in the late 1980s Eldon "Pokey" Reddick and Daniel "the Bandit" Berthiaume enjoyed a fantastic run. The two were small and slight, but acrobatic and entertaining. 

Berthiaume came out of Monreal and starred in the QMJHL with Drummondville and Chicoutimi. The Jets drafted him in the third round in 1985 and by 1986 he was a full time NHL goaltender. 

Reddick got the edge in terms of games played in the 1986-87 regular season but it was Berthiaume who led the Jets into the second round of the playoffs. That trend continued in 1987-88 when Berthiaume appeared in a career high 56 games, posting a 22-19-7 season. 

Then disaster struck for the Bandit. He showed up for camp out of shape, something the fans and media never forgave him for. They might have had he played well, but he started the season 0-8-0 with a goals against average near 6.00. He was sent to the minor leagues and replaced with a young Bob Essensa. 

Berthiaume tried to return to the Jets in 1989-90. He was 10-11-3 playing behind Essensa (Pokey had moved on to Edmonton for this season.) But by January 1990 he was moved to Minnesota where he played just 5 games.

Berthiaume joined Wayne Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings in 1990-91 and enjoyed a fine first season behind starter Kelly Hrudey. In the back up roll he went 20-11-4. But success was fleeting for the Bandit. He struggled through a 7-10-1 start with the Kings in 1991-92 before being traded to and used minimally by the Boston Bruins. The Bruins actually would trade Berthiaume back to Winnipeg, though he opted to play in Switzerland rather than return to Manitoba. 

Just before Christmas 1992 Berthiaume returned from Europe and signed on as a free agent with the down right awful Ottawa Senators expansion club. While backing up starter Peter Sidorkiewicz Berthiaume went 2-17-1. He would played just one more game with the Senators in the following season, his last in the NHL.

Berthiaume continued to strap on the goalie pads, playing many years in several different minor leagues through to 2005. He even played professional roller hockey in the summer time.

Berthiaume now lives in Virginia and has traded his net for a different kind of net. He owns a fishing charter business. It seems the Bandit has given way to "Captain Bert."


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