Hey, I’m as enthused as probably just about anyone about James Reimer, what he did last season and what we are hearing from him this summer.
It sure sounds like he hasn’t “changed”—you know, he’s still a mature, level-headed young person who just happens to be able to play goal pretty well.
We know, though, that if he’s like virtually every other promising young goalie that has come before him, he will hit rough patches and his confidence could take a hit. Then we will see how the coaching staff handles things, and how he responds to a lot of suggestions from Allaire—and perhaps others.
But for now, I’m thrilled that he is the guy set to begin the season as “number-one”. (Though, I have to say, I think coaches nowadays sometimes make way too big a deal about “who is the number-one” goalie. We’ve seen that in Toronto these last few years. Then, a guy struggles, and suddenly he’s not “number-one” anymore. That is no good for a guy’s confidence…)
But a few comments posted here yesterday, in response to my question about “who will step up big time for the Leafs this coming season”, made me reflect again on “back-up”Jonas Gustavsson.
Some of you may recall that I wrote some weeks ago that I felt strongly that Gustavsson still has a lot to give here in Toronto, though I opined that he may have to go elsewhere (and get away from Allaire) to be allowed to play the way he needs to play to be successful in the NHL. That is, play naturally, not filled with technical and mechanical “adjustments” constantly floating through his head.
I may be wrong, but I just think they need to let the guy play. (Click to read the earlier post on Gustavsson).
While Brodeur has been a one-man band in Jersey over the past 20 years, I think you need to have more than one guy that the team can have faith in. (I believe Buffalo, for example, may be in better shape this coming season because I sense the team has a lot of faith in Enroth, if Miller goes down…They haven’t historically had that kind of depth at that key position.)
Why not have two guys that can play, that the organization and the players really and truly believe in?
So here in Toronto, I’m all for Reimer receiving the yeoman’s share of the load. By all means, let him play 55 games, but don’t yank him around and end up killing the guy’s confidence if he has some poor games. Everybody has bad games, or a stretch of tough outings.
But I’ll say the same for Gustavsson. Players have to know that management believes in them. And while these are proud, very well-paid professionals with (in most instances) huge egos, when it comes to confidence, well, that can be a very fragile, fleeting thing—even for the best athletes.
So three cheers for Reimer—and the same for Gustavsson.