LOS ANGELES - Steve Bernier sat in the New Jersey Devils dressing room and could hear the first cheer.
Then another, and another.
ďI was very, very lonely,Ē said the Devils winger who had listened to the elation of Los Angeles Kings fans as their team scored three goals during a boarding major taken by Bernier halfway through the opening period of what turned out to be a 6-1 Kings win.
Bernier was kicked out of the game and sat, alone, in the Devils dressing room for the rest of the first period.
ďItís hard enough to get a penalty, but listening and know they scored three goals, when itís your penalty, itís very, very tough.Ē
Bernier was given the major penalty and a game misconduct for crashing into Kings defenceman Rob Scuderi.
ďI think maybe (it was) two minutes. Five minutes, thatís a lot,Ē said Bernier. ď(Scuderi) He came back later in the game, too. I donít know what to say. You try and finish your hit. He knew I was coming.Ē
Bernier said he was consoled by his teammates when they rejoined him in the dressing room.
ďEverybody came. Things happen. Iím not the kind of player who wants to hurt his team. I want to help them. We had a lot of good things going for us. To finish on that note is not fun. Thereís nothing you can do now. Thatís exactly the way Iím going to play. Iím going to finish my hit, keep going forward. I was already committed to the hit. Itís tough to stop when youíre going that fast. I feel bad, for sure.
ďThere were a lot of players who came and told me it was all right. Theyíve all been in this situation before. They know I didnít want to hurt the team. I felt better, but I feel pretty bad right now.Ē
Bernier had the support of his teammates.
ďIt was a tough one. Itís no oneís fault. He went to throw a bodycheck,Ē said winger David Clarkson. ďThere will be no fingers pointed anywhere. I didnít think it was that bad of a play.Ē
ďItís an unfortunate situation for a player who plays the game really hard. Heís going to have to live with that and I donít think thatís a fair thing,Ē said Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. ďThatís what happens when one person has the fate of the hockey game in their hands.Ē
Brodeur added that, overall, he was pleased with the Devils season, though they came up short in the final.
ďIím really proud of what we accomplished, not just in this series, but the whole playoffs. We took down two of our biggest rivals, the Flyers and the Rangers and we made this a series. Definitely disappointing not to go all the way, but ití a great season for the Devils,Ē he said.
The 40-year-old also said he was not planning on retiring.
ďI donít think so. This season and this playoff run answered a lot of questions -- where my game is at -- and Iím really happy to hopefully continue.Ē
He said Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick told him in the handshake line he wanted Brodeur to stick around.
ďHe just wanted to make sure I donít retire,Ē said Brodeur. ďI guess he likes me beating me.Ē