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NO HIBERNATION FOR THE BIG BEAR

Monday, 04.14.2008 / 2:31 PM / Features
By Erin Pollina  - Sabres.com
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NO HIBERNATION FOR THE BIG BEAR
Steve Bernier (Photo: Getty Images)
Big Bear has big plans for the summer.

Finding a place, settling into Buffalo and finally moving the last of his luggage out of San Jose all top the 23-year-old’s list of things to do.

Of course, more important than “seeing what Buffalo has to offer,” Steve Bernier also wants to focus on improving what he can provide for his new team.

“I’m going to work on my footwork, that’s the main thing,” he said.

But one of the few things that the “Bear” does not have to worry about this busy offseason is losing some of the stature that has essentially led to his nickname.

Standing at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Bernier’s level of conditioning was identified as an area of concern from critics, but according head coach Lindy Ruff it couldn’t be further from the truth.

“He’s a young player that needs a lot of direction but he’s not an out of shape player,” Ruff said. “What he needs- what you can identify in a lot of young players- as a big man is a little bit more quickness.”

For Bernier, that wasn’t always the case.

As a member of the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats, his training was called into question as he entered the NHL draft in 2003.

Although the winger scored 101 points (49+52) for the Wildcats that season, scouts felt he needed to lose weight to become a better skater.

In response, after being selected by the Sharks 16th overall, Bernier did just that, “putting himself on a new fitness regime and losing ten pounds of body fat,” according to Moncton’s Web site.

That dedication, according to Ruff, has continued throughout his professional career. 

“He is as in as good a shape physically as any player that has walked into our training room,” Ruff said. “We have had players in the past that we have told have to lose 15, 16 pounds to get into elite shape and that’s a long way to go. Steve is very lean… he’s an elite athlete when it comes to conditioning.”

Ruff just wants Bernier's focus to be speed, with and without the puck.  Skating lessons and off-ice cross-training will be the "Bear's" meat and potatoes for the next six months.

“I’m going to take a little bit of a break, I’m going to start training maybe in May,” Bernier said. “Hopefully everything will go well for me and I can improve to be better for the Buffalo Sabres next year.

“I was here for 16 games and for those games I played hard, I did the best I could and hopefully that was enough,” he continued. “I’m sad to leave Buffalo for the offseason but I will try to get ready for next year with the Sabres.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82