Gervais Confident in Chances
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Sunday, September 30, 2007

NEW YORK - With four players vying for the last defense spot on the team, the Islanders have a tough decision to make before the regular season begins this week, but Bruno Gervais is looking to make that decision an easy one.

The youngest of a group that consists of Bryan Berard, Freddy Meyer and Aaron Johnson, all of whom are fighting the same job, Gervais knows his chances of making the team improve with each offensive opportunity he’s able to foil. Known for his solid defensive ability and superior skating skills, Gervais earned significant playing time down the stretch for the Isles this season, but now finds himself in quite a predicament.

Looking for more offensive scoring out of their defense, the Isles invited the former Calder trophy winner Berard to camp and forced Gervais to play for his job. At only 22, Gervais could benefit from more seasoning with the Isles minor league affiliate in Bridgeport, but his heart is set on staying with the big club.

“I know I can play here,” he said. “I had a great playoff last year and I want to take it from there. I want to be in a position to play as much as possible and I think I’ve shown that so far this training camp.”

Gervais’ name didn’t show up often on the score sheet last season, as he totaled just six points in 51 games, with most of his contributions going unnoticed by the untrained eye. However, after scoring a goal and adding an assist in five games against the Buffalo Sabres during the playoffs, fans began to take notice of the smooth-skating defenseman.

The Isles however, have been aware of his talents for quite some time.

Beating out a slew of talented, young defenseman to make the team last season out of camp, Gervais knows how much work goes into getting one’s name on a roster card.

After almost making the team in 2003 as a sixth round draft pick, Gervais knows how crucial it is to his development to make the team this year and is going for broke this preseason.

“I’ve always been known as a good skater, but I worked even harder this off-season to get even better,” he said. “Right now, I’m at the point where I’ll do whatever I have to do in order to make this team and be a part of their success.”

Despite his penchant for making the smart play on defense, Gervais was known more for his offensive abilities in the minors and knows he could fill the team’s need for a point man on the powerplay if given an opportunity.

“Growing up, I was always on the powerplay,” said Gervais, who scored 22 goals in the QMJHL in 2003. “I scored a couple goals a few years ago on the powerplay with the team and I think I would do well there if I got a shot.”

Despite those sentiments, Gervais understands that his job may depend on how well he plays defense.

“Offense is a bonus,” said Gervais. “Getting a chance to join the rush is great, but my game starts in the defensive end. I think once the coaching staff is comfortable with me and trusts me on defense, those opportunities will come. That’s why I’ve always been so defensive-minded.

“I know I’ll get my chance.”