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Nonis at the deadline: not a case of showing faith in Reimer

I can’t help but comment on a mainstream media column I noted today (I didn’t read the actual story, sorry) on the heels of the NHL trade deadline day:  a noteworthy columnist suggested (at least based on the newspaper headline) that Leaf GM Dave Nonis had “shown faith” in James Reimer by not acquiring a goalie at the deadline.

While that is a warm and fuzzy notion, can even Reimer himself believe this is true, regardless of what the Leaf goakeeper says publicly?  By all accounts, the Leaf GM actually tried to connect with Kiprusoff personally to see if the veteran netminder would be willing to come to Toronto.  Once that deal was scuttled, Roberto Luongo was next up for discussion.  The only thing that seemed to prevent the highly-paid Canuck goaltender from being a member of the blue and white right now is that Vancouver would not take back any (or at least not enough) of Luongo’s massive contract.

To be clear, as I have said here for a long time, I’m perfectly OK with having Reimer be “the guy” in the Leaf net.  I’ve said here regularly that I believe he could return to form.  And he has played pretty darn well most nights this season.  If the team plays solid and smart “team defense” in front of him, I would very much look forward to seeing Reimer get a chance to play in the playoffs.

For his part, Scrivens has done nothing to indicate he can’t play, either, so we have two relatively young guys both striving—and battling—to earn playing time.  That’s a good thing.

But to suggest that Nonis in any way showed “confidence” in his goaltending tandem (Scrivens, in fact, was reportedly in the Luongo deal, had it gone through) makes no sense to me.

GM’s are always looking to improve their roster.  We all get that.  While I was not a fan of acquiring Luongo (ever) or Kiprusoff, I get that Nonis has a job to do, and that includes checking out possible trades.

But we’re kidding ourselves if we think Reimer should feel that he has been given a vote of confidence.  He may try to tell himself that.  But here’s the truth:  one goalie refused to come here, the other costs too much.  Otherwise, someone other than Reimer would be the new starting goalie for the Maple Leafs down the stretch—and in the playoffs.

Over time, we’ll find out if the old adage that “sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make” applies to Nonis in this instance—even though he was apparently ready to make a deal.


If you have any time this weekend, join us for Episode 51 of the “Leaf Matters” podcast.  We cover the latast Leaf topics with our special guest, Maple Leaf Hot Stove founder Alec Brownscombe.  You can catch the show (and all previous episodes) on iTunes and on the PodAlmighty Network.


Can anyone explain why the Leafs are (yet again) so reluctant to explain an injury—in this case, Joffrey Lupul’s injury?  I get that teams don’t want to reveal specifics, especially at playoff time, if a guy has a bum shoulder or some other ailment that the opposition will try to take advantange of.  That’s always been the case in hockey.

But why do some organizations just come out and say truthfully when a guy gets hurt (especially when being honest about concussions, which are an important health issue in society these days) but the Leafs just seem to be so afraid to tell us what we already know?  I’m just a bit confused as to what the deal is.  We could all see he got hit in the head and he was seriously shook up.  That he won’t play in New Jersey is not only not a shock, I don’t buy this “day to day” thing”. 

Do you?


  1. Actually listening to Nonis speak I came away with the impression that Kipper was not going to be the starter. In fact I think that may be part of the reason he refused to come, he wasn't interested in becoming a mentor, insurance policy. Nonis was explicit when he said that neither of his goalies was moving in the Kipper trade which is why they tried hard to get it. Regardless of Kipper's numbers this year he was looked at as an insurance policy in case Reimer falls on his face at playoff time. I don't get the sense they wanted Kipper to come and be the starter.

    I don't think the Leafs realy tried all that hard to get Luongo. Did they kick tires, sure, did Vancouver call them I have no doubt. But really, a second and third round draft choice and a back up goalie, come on. If they really wanted Luongo they would have him. Yes Luongo would have been the starter if he came over, but like I said I don't believe the Leafs were or are that serious about getting him.

    The take away from all this is that yes Nonis did show faith in Reimer because the asking price for Luongo is ridiculously cheap and they still didn't pull the trigger and Kipper was never going to be the starter. I could be wildly off on this but that is how I see the whole situation.

    As for injuries the whole upper/lower body injury thing is complete and utter BS. I don't expect Lupul back much before the playoffs not this day to day crap. I guess with head injuries it is hard to tell but remember both Reimer and Frattin were only listed as a week to ten days originally and then both missed upwards of three weeks. The Leafs management style sometimes just leaves me baffled.

  2. You may well be right, Willbur, though we've known GM's to cover their tracks publicly after the fact in the past!

    The only thing I wonder is if Kiprusoff had come here and played well, would that have evolved into his being the number-one guy under Carlyle? Nonis doesn't decide who plays goal.

    As for Lupul- why the Leafs can't just admit what everyone knows is, as you say, baffling. Thanks Willbur.

  3. I have always been indifferent when it came to the goaltending situation. I would have welcomed a vet tender, now that we don't have one, I'm not crushed either. I won't go as far to say that Reimer is the guy for the job. I think he's unpredictable and inconsistent and I wonder how he'll do under pressure. Yes, it's true we need solid defence work by the team in order to help him BUT, the team also needs Reimer to step up and win a few games for them as well. The Leafs are or were, 1st in the league, (I don't know if that's still the case to date), for blocked shots & that helps. The 3rd goal that Philly scored on Thursday night, was a puck that he should have had. It's times like these, that make me question if he's truly going to be a #1 and if he can step up & steal a game, as so many #1's are noted for doing. Ottawa is where they are right now because of their goaltending and for no other reason.
    Did Nonis show faith at the trade deadline? No. If he had faith, he wouldn't have been investigating possibilities to start with. The numbers that were involved, is simply called business.
    Of course this is just my opinion and I respectfully submit my comments.

  4. I can certainly see your perspective, Anon. With regard to the "bad" goals he gives up, all I can really say is even the best goalies give up horrible goals and have bad games- and bad stretches of play where they struggle with timing, mechanics and confidence.

    Is Reimer a bonafide "number-one"? I think we are aways from "feeling" that- and I'm guessing so is the Leaf brass.

    To your point about stealing games, I said much the same thing here about three weeks ago. While I had been generally pleased with the goaltending this season, there was also a need, I felt, for our goalies to really show their stuff down the stretch and grab the job for good. They have largely done that since. The Philly game doesn't shake my faith, just provides us with yet another reality check. Thanks Anon.

  5. I think that, given Nonis's well-documented hunt for a goalie over the last week or so, it is ridiculous to suggest that Nonis has faith in Reimer or Scrivens. I think that is the big difference between him and Burke - the latter actually had faith in his young goalies.

    Nonis acquired Luongo for Vancouver after Burke got fired and I'm sure he wants him in Toronto and I don't blame him - Luongo has never posted a save percentage below .914 in all his years in NHL and that includes the years with Florida and a year with Islanders (so the argument that he's playing behind a great team is not gonna work, sorry). He is easily the most consistent net-minder in the league and he has a few more good years in him. He's also a very big personality and is made I would say to play in the hockey Mecca.

    I think Nonis is waiting for the price to drop and I hope he is right and the price does drop and we get this amazing goaltender in the summer.
    For now I guess it is fair to say that, although he may not believe in Reimer, Nonis has enough faith in him to not overpay for Luongo. I don't think Nonis believes that his team is a contender this year and that really irritates me but I guess we have to live with that.

    Finally there's a possibility, and this may be a bit of a stretch, that Nonis does in fact believe in Reimer and is simply doing all this goalie talk in order to tie-up, mislead and humiliate the guy who took his job in Vancouver.

  6. Goaltending debates aside, leafdreamer, Nonis is thinking longer-term as this is not a Cup-type team yet. Carlyle has been experimenting all season and that may well continue.

    Nonis will no doubt make a move to improve the roster in a meaningful way when he believes we are closer to truly contending. Thanks leafdreamer...