JF Berube made back-to-back starts for the first time in his NHL career this past weekend. The Islanders didn’t achieve the outcome desired, but looking back, there is something else I’ve taken away from watching Berube this season.
When I saw JF before the matchup in Buffalo there was a glow about him. He was getting set to make his first start of the season and had been very patient.
Patience is a funny thing. It’s not easy for everyone. I believe some people are blessed with the ability to wait things out, bide their time and see how the chips fall. I’ll be the first to admit, patience is not a strong suit of mine. But I admire Berube a great deal for the patience he’s shown since first putting on an Islanders sweater.
Last year when the Isles picked up JF off waivers from LA, there was excitement about the idea of this young up-and-coming French-Canadian goalie. What would the Isles do with him? How would they utilize his talents? Ultimately the team carried three goalies for the season, and with an injury to Jaro Halak late in the year, JF was a valuable backup to Thomas Greiss.
This season, once again, the Isles decided to keep three goalies on the roster. As the games went on and five games turned into 10, and 20 turned into 25, I kind of forgot about JF. It’s sad to say that, but other than practice time or getting on and off the plane, I didn’t really see him. He wasn’t around in the dressing room for pre-game skates. That’s because he was always staying on the ice for extra work. He was fine-tuning anything he could so that when his number was called, he would be ready.
The first real conversation I had with JF, other than our preseason interviews at training camp, came during the California trip. He was hanging out in the dressing room, while other players had already skirted out to get ready for the game. He was smiling ear-to-ear and excited to tell me about his new mask. He was very proud of the meaningful images painted on it. Pictures connecting Brooklyn and Long Island, plus a tribute to Islanders great Billy Smith. JF also has family members’ birthdays inscribed on his bucket. A reminder of the important people in his life, who in a way are with him every time he takes the ice.
During that same conversation, we also talked about the difficulties of not playing, and not knowing when he would get a chance in net. JF never complained. Not once did he sound bitter. He admitted it was frustrating at times, but he was doing everything he could to stay positive so that when the team needed him, he would be ready.
Berube is only 25 years old, but I feel like he’s wise beyond his years.
I’m going to work on being more patient in my life and with my work, the way JF has been since becoming an Islander. There is an image he’s carried over from one mask to the next throughout his hockey career. It’s a Chinese symbol that means perseverance. It’s a constant reminder that no matter what life throws at him, or how often he gets a chance to start, he will continue to work hard.
JF Berube is determined to prove he’s a valuable netminder at the NHL level.