Those who have followed the musings here at VLM over the years know that I‘ve been a “Reimer guy” pretty much since he joined the big club during the 2010-’11 NHL season.
Much has changed for him and the organization since then—not to mention the countless teammates who have come and gone in the interim. As fans, we’ve experienced the worst of times, but really haven’t experienced the best of times, have we?
Reimer has been, since Day One here, an imperfect netminder. But given that he was a mid-round draft choice back in 2006, most of us likely had virtually no expectations that he would ever be a difference-maker. Heck, many first-round goalie picks never achieve that status for any length of time.
But from the outset, Reimer was, for me, a breath of fresh air. He seemed genuine, and never seemed to find being in the spotlight in Toronto something he could not handle. While others more expert than I at goaltender analysis picked apart his technical and mechanical flaws, I simply appreciated the fact that the Leafs had a goaltender who cared, battled and would way more often than not fight back from bad starts in games or bad goals.
And maybe most importantly, he always seemed to be proud to be a Maple Leaf who actually wanted to be in, and stay in, Toronto. (Unlike some guys who can’t seem to get out of Dodge quickly enough…)
His numbers and stats over the years have been fine but pretty middlish. Still, Reimer had a lot of moments that made me believe he was and remains a solid NHL goalie. On better Leaf teams, with better structure and a willingness to do the right things on defense (regardless of the "system" different coaches employed during his tenure here), how good might he have been?
So here we are (and it’s hard to believe), with Reimer already in his sixth season in Toronto, and the soon-to-be 28 year old former Red Deer junior is now a San Jose Shark. He has long not been the organization’s goaltender of choice—not since the now departed Tim Leiweke referred to him as the “guy we inherited” in net.
So perhaps this will be a good thing, for the Maple Leafs and for Reimer. Receiving essentially only a fourth round draft pick is no doubt the best Lamoriello could muster. There aren’t many teams looking to pay a lot for goaltenders who (as much as I like Reimer and think he’s a fine netminder) who will likely be, at best, a back up in their new situation.
I have no idea if there will be a market for the pending free agent. Could he return to Toronto? I don’t really think so. It seems more likely he will land elsewhere, again fighting to be a number-one guy.
I hope he has success with San Jose. Whether he plays a big or minor role there will likely determine his value this summer. But for me, I’m mostly in a mood today to reflect on the fact that I very much appreciated Reimer’s time in Toronto. Over the last decade, I have often found the Leaf organization (starting with ownership ) a bit un-likeable.
Reimer was one guy I liked. To me, he was an individual that represented the Leaf legacy and Maple Leaf crest very well.
He was a good player, and a good Leaf during some very difficult times for the organization.