Let’s be clear: I’ve loved the Reimer story as much as anyone. He has come out of nowhere, played very well—played his heart out really. And to add to all that good stuff, he comes across as a genuinely nice young man (see earlier post “Can we bottle Reimer’s attitude…”).
But as the as the clock creeps toward midnight in this phase of this season’s Cinderella story, the Leaf brass has a decision to make. What’s the best thing for Reimer going forward? The guy has backstopped the team into playoff contention, with very few poor outings and virtually no rest. But most great “runs” come to an end. Maybe he’ll step back in and shine in
, but it’s also possible his streak of outstanding play has simply hit a wall. Carolina
Reimer has played, what is it now, 14 games in a row or thereabouts? He had the neck problem, now the hand problem. He may be banged up, whether they want to acknowledge it or not. Regardless, when was the last time this young man played this many games in a row? Obviously never, at the NHL level.
I don’t believe for a moment that this is strictly a coach’s decision.
will have input, but this goes higher up the food chain. Wilson
This is not to, even in the tiniest way, lay the
game at his doorstep. Far from it. The young man has stood tall from the time he got here. When he has a less than spectacular night, he quite obligingly takes responsibility. (After every tough game, he has always come back and played solidly.) Importantly, he is equally level-headed when things do go his way. Tampa Bay
But there are two things at play here: his own long-term development, and the team’s desire to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
There is no doubt, none at all, that he has been the right guy to be between the pipes during this stretch. (Even with three goalies on the roster at times, there is no “controversy”. He has earned his time, with no debate.) And I’m not saying he isn’t the right guy to handle the load the rest of the way. But I do wonder if it is expecting just a bit too much to suggest he will just keep playing every night.
I well remember that Felix Potvin was a young guy, too, when he took the reins back in ’93. He started every playoff game, whether he had a rough game or not. Pat Burns just kept showing faith in him—and that approach worked.
Reimer is still playing well and making some huge saves. But if he is tired, and hurting, well, doesn’t everything run out of gas eventually—or at least need a re-charge?
Perhaps Giguere is still not a hundred per cent. Gustavsson’s health may be a factor too, and he is a long time removed from being a difference-maker in the Leaf net.
Importantly, my sense is that the team has very little confidence in either Giggy or The Monster right now. Not that they both can’t regain the team’s confidence, but they would have to step in, play well—and keep playing well.
More than two months ago I wrote that the Leafs needed a goalie to take the ball and run with it if they hoped to have a shot at making the playoffs. A goalie who would play out of his head. Who expected that goalie would be Reimer?
The Leafs want to get to the playoffs, but they also have to think about safeguarding a potentially significant asset for years to come in Reimer. My guess is the Leaf brass doesn’t want to do anything to harm Reimer’s confidence, so they will go with him if he is healthy because they feel he is their guy going forward—regardless of potential playoff implications. If that’s the case, I understand. They owe him whatever is best for his confidence, his health—and his future.