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If I’m James Reimer, what I might be thinking on a nice summer, off-season day….

As the young Maple Leaf prospects (this is the week, right, or is it next week?) go through their paces at the annual orientation camp for Leaf future hopefuls, the veterans are either getting married, getting in shape or taking some well-deserved time away from hockey.

All athletes have their own way of getting “ready” for the next season.  For some it’s staying away from the rink and just relaxing.  For others it’s may be about eating right, losing weight and getting in better cardiovascular shape.  For others still, it might be the old “getting bigger and stronger” and actually putting on some weight (young Colborne, perhaps?).

Finally, there are those who need to get quicker, or faster. And some who may need to get mentally tougher.

Some individuals are near the end of their career and are hoping to get one or two more years of that great NHL income.  Younger guys might be “bubble” players, preparing to fight for survival.  In the case of certain young, prospective Leafs, they may be ‘this close’ to being an NHL’er, but anything less than a stellar training camp will make them a Marlie again for perhaps another season. (I should add another category: that of guys typecast as career minor-leaguers who desperately want to break through that perception, like Kostka and Fraser did a season ago.)

Some face a make-or break point, others, like a Kessel, are in that sweet hockey ‘mid-life’ prime-time spot, when all is good.  They are in their prime as they await that next huge contract.

Now, if you’re James Reimer, what might you be thinking as you try to get your thoughts together around the upcoming NHL season and how to best prepare for what lies ahead?

Well, I’ll start by saying I, of course, have no clue what he may be thinking.  I can only try, like anyone else, to surmise what he might be thinking or feeling.  Heck, I don’t even believe anything he says—not because he is untrustworthy, but simply because like the rest of us, he’s human.  What he says publicly and what he may truly feel (isn’t that the same for all of us, especially if we have been surprised, hurt, caught off guard of whatever by a situation) are likely two very different things.

Those who visit VLM regularly already know I’m something of a Reimer guy.  I’ve long appreciated how he has come across, as a seemingly genuine, down-to-earth young man.  And he has done so in a pretty high-stress, high-profile market, especially for goaltenders.

I don’t pretend, as I have said here before, that he is Glenn Hall, Johnny Bower (right) or the reincarnation of Jacques Plante.  I just like the kid, think he plays goal pretty well and has shown, in my mind, a lot of guts to get to this point in his career. 

Are there flaws in his game?  Of course.  We all see them.  Are they correctable?  I have no idea.  Are flaws in a golf swing correctable?  For some guys yes, for others, no.

But for today, that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m not writing about whether he is an All-Star or not (I don’t think he is, not in the way I think of true “All-Star” goalies, at least), or whether he can improve (I think he can) or if he will never be any better than he is right now.

I’m not even questioning whether I look at him through Leaf-coloured glasses, as in, do I over-estimate how good he is because he plays for the Leafs, as opposed to some hockey hinterland like Columbus.  (No offense to the fine folks in Columbus, a great town and a wonderful college football area.  It’s just not a hockey town…)

No, what I’m talking about is, now a few weeks after the arrival (and signing) of Jonathan Bernier, what is James Reimer really and truly thinking and feeling about the Leafs, the organization, Dave Nonis, the Leaf brass?

Some fans have said (or will suggest) that Reimer is the ultimate team guy and will therefore almost automatically do whatever is best for the team. Others have claimed he will be spurred on by Bernier’s presence, and will be so motivated that he will fight to earn the number-one job at training camp. The claim is he will welcome Bernier with open arms and all will be good in Leafland.

Now even Reimer may tell himself that, and he will no doubt feel compelled to present himself publicly as though he is OK with all this, but I don’t think that’s how he really feels.

Let’s take a step back.  Unless I am mis-remembering something, Reimer finished the 2010-’11 season as the clear-cut first-string goalie with the Leafs.  He started the 2011-’12 season as the top guy.  Injuries impacted that season, obviously, but he was still “the man” heading into last season.  Leaf management said so, though they allowed publicly that they were always on the lookout to improve the roster, including in goal, if possible.

The 2012-’13 NHL mini-season saw Reimer not start Game 1 after a one-week training camp, but that had everything to do with Ben Scrivens being in game shape.  Reimer was not.

Reimer, however, quickly established himself as the Leafs go-to guy.  He showed not only flashes of his rookie season effectiveness, but demonstrated a fire-in-his-belly attitude that I really liked a lot.  As much as I also liked Scrivens’ compete level too, for me, Reimer was the undisputed top guy in goal, and he cemented that with his playoff performance against the Bruins.

Now, some will focus on his late game “errors” against the Bruins in Game 7.  (Do we forget that Hall-of-Famer Patrick Roy “dropped” a puck for a crucial playoff goal/loss while minding the net for the Avalanche in their hey-day years ago.  Even the best goaltenders make gaffes at crucial times…)  For me, we would not even be talking about that if the Leafs could have simply scored into an empty net.  If we do, it’s game over, series over, Reimer is a hero (at least until Round two) and the season, by any measure, is a screaming success.

But I digress.  However, I only raise these points to provide context for why Reimer might well be thinking what I think he is thinking. (That’s a lot of “thinks” but let’s call it literary license or style or something…)

Since I can’t be in Reimer’s shoes, let me say what I might be thinking were I in his shoes.  And here it is:

I’m a young guy.  I admit I still have a lot to learn.  And yes, I acknowledge that I have to bust my tail to keep proving to the organization that I deserve to be the guy in goal. In a sense I’ve proven nothing yet.  I haven’t “won” anything just yet.

All that said, I’ve saved this team’s bacon on more than one occasion over the past three seasons.  I love my teammates, really like playing here and am happy to go with the public claim that we keep shots to the outside and all that, but who’s kidding who? No one gives up the puck more than we do, at least not among teams who advance to the playoffs.  We do give up a ___-load of shots.  I’m far from perfect but I also, in fairness, have not exactly been playing behind the 1977 Montreal Canadiens defense the past three seasons.

I’ve played with and through serious injuries.  I have fought my way back through every challenge.  I’ve taken on all other goaltenders in the system and have come out on top.  I was within a empty net goal of helping my team beat the Bruins. 

Now, when I really could use a pat on the back, a genuine show of support and a real demonstration of the organization’s confidence in me, they bring in another goalie.  And not just another older goalie like a Luongo or Kiprusoff, but a guy my age that obviously wants to be here as well—and plans to be the number-one goalie here.

We traded three significant assets for him, and just gave him, the new guy, a new contract.  They now tell me I’m not the first-string goalie but yet again that I have to “prove” I’m good enough. I’m supposed to embrace that idea.

Hey, I love to compete.  But this playing field feels tilted.  The new guy has a new contract.  We gave up players to get him, including a starter off our roster.  They gave up nothing to get me.  I was not drafted by this management team.  In fact,  everything I have ever read about their supposed faith in me has always seemed to come with an “if” or a “but” at the end of every comment, as in “we have faith in Reimer but if we can improve ourselves we will…”.

At some point, I guess they could not take “yes” for an answer from me.  I’ve given everything I could.  And I will keep doing exactly that.  But it’s hard to feel—and believe—that the jury has not already…if not made up their mind exactly, that they already, deep down, hope the other guy will be great, will be “better” than me, in order to make their decision easier and to make their off-season moves look better.

Could any of that be what Reimer is thinking?  None of it?  A bit of it?  Again, I have no idea.  But while I do not believe he is Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek or Patrick Roy, guys who established themselves as the unquestioned best goalie on their teams and never had to worry going into training camp, I still can’t shake the view that Reimer has somehow deserved better.

The notion that the Leafs are better because they now have two good young goalies instead of one is a nice thought.  Unfortunately, it dismisses Scrivens (who played some good hockey here) too readily and it assumes that Bernier will be satisfied "sharing" time with Reimer.  I don't, by the way, accept the idea that Bernier is necessarily better than Reimer.  (People can say what they want, but I’d rather play goal behind the LA team than the Leafs; c’mon, it’s not even close, whatever ‘stats’ people might try to pull out to compare the two rosters and styles of play.)

Playing in Toronto always sounds fantastic from the outside looking in.  But do we need to count the number of guys who could not make it here in the past decade, including a number of goaltenders—all of whom were thought to be an improvement on what we already had?  It always seemed like a “good idea” at the time.

And let’s be honest: it’s one thing to have a netminding tandem with a veteran and an emerging young guy.  Even that is not always ideal, but the youngster can at least tell himself the job will be his someday, because he’s younger, costs the team less, or he will improve enough to supplant the old guy eventually.

But two guys, the same age?  This is not going to work.  Not over time, anyway.  It just won’t.

And I’ll say it again: if you want to be a championship team, “win and you’re in” with goaltenders (Carlyle’s philosophy…and I’ve supported the coach a lot here in certain areas, as some readers will know) is just plain, well, dumb. That’s fine for teams with no identity, and no solid goaltenders, teams that are going nowhere.

Is that how we see the Leafs?

This will not work.  Bernier knows it.  Reimer knows it.  We fans can look a the “ideal” scenario and want to believe this is great for the team, but I’ve seen too many quarterback “controversies’ absolutely kill professional football teams.  I have no interest in that happening here.

It’s true that you can never have too many good defensemen in the NHL.  But even there, there has to be a pecking order.  Not everyone can play 25 minutes a night and be happy.  And if you have unhappy players, the outcome is rarely good.

So what is Reimer really thinking on these beautiful, lazy, hazy (and where I am, often rainy lately) days of summer? 

You tell me…


  1. Are you sure Columbus is not a hockey town? They are clearly not the hockey town Toronto is but they have not had a team for years. Their team started with a 5-12-2 record and then almost made the playoffs and were sold out every game with standing room only crowds near the end of the season. I personally don't know and have never been there but I have read they are pretty good hockey fans and would really support the Blue Jackets if they ever had a team. Pretty much like a lot of places - Ottawa comes to mind.

    As I am retired I have a lots of time to listen to Leafs talk and various talk shows and there has been quite a few discussions on Bernier. Pretty much every analyst, scout or GM has said they think Bernier has huge potential. They are even talking potential superstar. They have also said Quick was the starter in LA but Bernier was just as good. Apparently he has no actual weakness in his game unlike Reimer with the glove hand and rebounds. They also say he can handle the puck the way Brodeur does. They repeatedly keep saying Leaf fans are going to be thrilled when they actually get to see him play. An analyst from RDS had dinner with him last week and said he was in unbelievable condition and was working out every day. I have heard a few times that he is a fitness fanatic. It could be that Reimer is a very good goalie but the question remains - is he good enough to win a Cup? Maybe he is but then again maybe he isn't. If he isn't then they need another goalie. Maybe Bernier is the guy so it is worth the gamble.

    Anyway I am excited and I keep hearing from all these hockey people that Bernier is the real deal. I'm thinking maybe the Leafs have another Bernie Perant.

    1. I think lots of places are "hockey towns" temporarily- when their teams wins, Alton. Florida Panthers (Sunrise) come to mind. They sold out when they went to the Cup finals many years ago, but no one really believes it's a hockey town. Many nights you can see thousands of empty seats. Same in Phoenix- if they make the playoffs and do well, sure, fans come out because it's the 'in' thing to do. That doesn't make those places good hockey towns.

      Columbus has good fans, sure. So do the Islanders and Hurricanes. But none of those markets are Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver or Montreal. And in terms of American markets, Columbus is replaceable. Just my view. I respect your view if you see it differently.

      As for Bernier, again, I've heard this before about lots of goalies. All destined to be great. He'd better be, because he is ultimately replacing a young man who played his heart out for the Leafs. Thanks Alton.

  2. I think we know already. In perhaps his most unguarded moment so far, Reimer said:

    "I don't plan on giving up the net...I don't plan on giving up that starters' spot right now, not to be a jerk about it obviously."

    As for answering the lingering questions, Reimer looked to keep a steady approach. "Just keep going, keep plugging away," he declared of his mindset. "You can always gain experience and you can always get better and in some way that really hasn't changed. Bringing in Bernier, obviously we're both after the same thing here [and that's] trying to obtain that starting job I guess or in my instance trying to obviously keep it. You keep going. I think if you have a couple seasons like the first one I had and this third one, my third season, I think you start to answer those questions.

    "I'm sure people have questions and the doubters and naysayers have things that maybe they think I need to work on, but I think you just keep playing and try and play well for a long period of time and I think then eventually you get that notoriety or whatever it is that you want to call it."

    The statements seem especially the first one seem more aggressive than the internal dialogue that you are imagining, Michael

    Reimer will be polite about it, but I think he comes in with distinct undertone of aggression and competitiveness. He will be humble and polite to the media in his aw shucks manner, but I think he is quietly steaming underneath it all. We will see a very mature business-like resolve out of Reimer. He summarized his thoughts and attitude very well in a short phrase:

    "I don't plan on giving up the net."

    1. I agree, DP- the last statement you quote from Reimer is no doubt his mind set. The thing is, that can change if the playing field seems un-evenly tilted. We'll see!

  3. I like Reimer and I know Reimer played his heart out but in game 7 he didn't get the job done. They keep saying it was a total team collapse so Reimer shouldn't get the blame and I understand that, all of the players on the team were panicking but that is the time you need a goalie to make a save and settle the team down. I think Leaf management really didn't like what Reimer showed in that Boston game 7. And in game 4 OT Reimer also let in a little flip shot by Krejci so as much as you say he played his heart out which I agree he did he also didn't get the job done. Reimer could still outplay Bernier next season but maybe Bernier is actually better. Either way the Leafs should be better in net. Bernier has a 1.88 GAA and .922 Sv% in 14 games this season which was better than Quick at 2.45 and .902 but Quick has the $58 million 10 year contract.

    1. I don't fully agree the Reimer collapsed in Game 7, Alton. And maybe Bernier will be really good. But I'll just say this: it's a lot, lot easier to be a back-up on a really good team, than being the go-to guy on a lesser team. Thanks Alton.

  4. Michael, no doubt Reimer is thinking many of the things you suggested. If I was going to suggest some things differently, I would say he is very supportive of his D-men, and wouldn't be critical of them in any real way. He knows like him, they are all part of the team, and trying their best to support him. For sure he is disappointed that the Leafs went after a younger goalie and, that instead of placing faith in him as their true #1, they brought in Bernier to challenge him and perhaps replace him.

    Reimer said a lot of things when he first found out about Bernier coming to Toronto, and as expected he was professional and said he would welcome Bernier as a team-mate. But one thing he said quite clearly, albeit in a soft but determined voice, was that it was his net, and that Bernier would have to steal it from him.

    Reimer wants to prove to the Leafs' management that they had no reason to question his ability to be the #1. If he does, he will also jack up his next contract price a huge amount. A win-win for him.

    We've all heard good things about Bernier. The only way he steals the net is if he outplays Reimer. If he does, then the Leafs will probably trade Reimer. If Reimer proves he's the better goalie, then he will be re-signed with a nice raise, and Bernier made available for trade. I view Bernier as insurance. I still believe in Reimer, and many of the fans do too.

    I would say things actually would have been far worse if Luongo had been acquired by Toronto. He is a proven #1 goalie, with a hefty salary. Reimer would have been relegated to back-up, and he would have to hope Luongo struggled or got injured.

    Remember it was injuries to Giguere and the faltering of Gustavsson that allowed Reimer to show what he could do. After that season ended, Reimer was suddenly considered Leafs "new" #1 guy. Injuries set him back a bit and many started to question whether he could get his game back. He proved that he was back in form this season.

    Carlyle is going to go with the goalie that gives the team the best chance to win. IF Reimer stays healthy, IMO Bernier has one hell of a task trying to steal the net from Reimer. Inside Reimer's head, I think he is thinking the same thing.

    1. Thanks Don (TML_fan). I included "his" thoughts on the defense in the way most of us as people naturally react when we are suddenly pushed out of the way. Maybe Reimer is "better" than that and would never think those kinds of thoughts, but even he must have some thoughts!

      I like your last point a lot, by the way. Thanks Don.

  5. Well I think I've made my feelings clear. I think Reimer is gone by the trade deadline at the latest and to me that is just a dam shame. There is no chance absolutely none, that Reimer is in a competition for the number one. Bernier is Nonis' and Carlyle's guy. You stated it above , no one gives up assets then pays the new guy over a million more to be the back up, no one.

    Its funny because I come down somewhere in the middle with the whole stats vs watching the game thing but in this instance I'm a wholly on the stats guys side. It seems to me the only defence I hear for getting Bernier is he was a former first round pick and his "potential" is sky high. Just watch him play and you'll love him. Well maybe but the last time the Leafs traded for a back up who had sky high potential and then was given a big contract before he had even played a game was Toskla. No revisionist history either, Toskla was touted as a great goalie just needed to play but couldn't because he was behind Nabokov. Sound familiar? Just imagine if Reimer was drafted in the first round and Bernier in the third, this conversation would never be happening. The simple fact is Bernier has been in the league for several years but couldn't even win the starting job on his team. On a far superior team his numbers are worse than Reimer's across the board in some cases such as even strength 5 on 5 they are not even close. A move that didn't have to be made. I hope things work out for Nonis on his big gamble but it seems to me to be one he didn't have to make.

    If Bernier was just as good as Quick why didn't he play more games? Over the course of 4+ seasons he has only 60 some career starts. People like to point out that Reimer has not played a full season well neither has Bernier. The other factor is in a league where the goalies are getting bigger every year, the leafs have bucked the trend and made a five foot ten guy their starting goalie. This move is a huge gamble and I hope it works out but I'm really not holding my breath. Worse if it doesn't work out and reamer ends up being number one they just wasted a whole lot of cap space on a back up goalie when they already had a capable back up for a lot cheaper. Just crazy.

    1. Hi Willbur- I'm just running out the door, but I'll post more on your thoughts this afternoon....

    2. haha, i love wilbur's response. he brings up a tremendous point by mentioning one name: toskala. the guy was touted as being this tremendous goalie that would save the franchise... he ended up being terrible. i guess management doesn't learn from history, and they paint themselves into a corner by paying bernier more money than their home-grown number-1 goalie in the system. i'm another big fan of reimer michael... i challenge anyone to find a goalie without a weakness (if they had no weaknesses, i would argue that they should never give up a goal!). if reimer's weaknesses are so glaring, while playing in front of a so-so defense, than how-come his save % and goals against average are where they are? shouldn't they be in the absolute pits? oh well, i'm on a tangent... big fan of reimer... i love your internal dialogue, and i like wilbur's additions.

    3. Just got back in, Willbur. I think you know we're on a similar wave length on this one. I hear what Alton is saying, and most goalies have to "graduate" at some point from being a back-up to being the top guy and all that, but I don't believe that a goalie has no weaknesses. As with Reimer, when we see Bernier play, we will find weaknesses. Every goalie has some.

      Everyone hopes Bernier will be really good here. I sense he can be. I'm just not sure we automatically have gotten "better" in goal just because some say so.

  6. If I was reimer what would be going thru my noggin'?? Well I would have to remember my path here.
    - drafted by Red deer Rebels, Brent Sutter wanted to release me after my 1st training camp.
    - I made the club on my 3rd attempt
    - My 1st season I had 7 wins in 34 games
    - Broke my hand late in season, ruined my slim chances on Team Canada
    - Drafted by Leafs in 4th round regardless of my poor stats so far. Before the draft I am quoted as saying, " hope LA takes me, love to play in all that sunshine.
    - 2006-07, 26wins, 27 losses, 7 ties, my best record in the WHL
    - 2007-08, ankle injury played in only 30 games
    - 2008 -09, played ECHL, traded to the evenual ECHL champs, Burkie wanted him to some playoff experience.
    - 2009-10, another ankle injury
    - 2010-11, rookie season fans fall in love with me, good time to sign current contract
    - 2011-12, neck injury
    - 2012- 13, MCL sprain

    Hmmmm If I was Reimer, I would want to remain healthy. In eight seasons I have missed considerable amount of time off due to injury. Five seasons out of eight I have been hurt.

    The leaf management I think knows he has the tools to get the job done, but for how long??? China doll syndrome, bad luck???

    That is why we have Bernier.

    1. Fair points, tans66. That can be viewed as a bit of a "checkered" history! Thanks.

  7. We will not know the result of the goaltending manoeuvring for some time. In a vacuum the deal would be dubious, in the cap system it is confounding. Consequently, my initial reaction, that the move was unnecessary and uneconomical has not changed. Valuable assets were shipped to Los Angeles and precious cap space frittered away on an inflated Bernier contract and the taking on LA salary.

    Unless the trade works out spectacularly, Nonis appears to have grossly overpaid and possibly made a major blunder. I have seen all three goaltenders play and I am not able to say which one will be the better player down the road. To me, Ben Scrivens could easily turn out to be the best of the three young goalies. How Scrivens became chopped liver in the eyes of fans and Leaf management will remain one of those great mysteries of groupthink. It is worth noting that neither Vancouver nor Los Angeles fell into that trap as each worked to pry him from the somnolent Leaf management. I hope that the Nonis gamble pays off, but as things stand it appears to be little more than an inexplicable roll of the dice.

    What would be going through Reimer’s mind? If I were Reimer I wouldn’t be thinking about what Martin Brodeur said about him toward the end of last season: "If he plays like that every game, I don't know why they were looking for another goalie … He made some great saves and showed a lot of poise in there. He didn't get rattled. He didn't handle the puck much, but he was still very impressive." And certainly, he should also not think about the gratifying Luongo tweet: “REIMS4SOCHI”. I mean, who cares if two of your fans are Hall of Fame destined goalies. After all, what do they know about goaltending?

    1. Home run, Bobby C.. I'm listening attentively to all views and lots of good points are being made, but for me, your perspective -and last paragraph- just cleared the fence....

  8. I am just going to say, I love Riemer. His increadible personality, his heart, his fire and his unending desire to prove himself. But if I am in the Leaf's managements shoes I brought in Bernier for one reason, Reimer's injuries. As much as i love the kid, if I am not mistaken he hasnt player a full season of Hockey without significant injury since before College. Thats an issue and a serious one at that, with the past few years everytime Reimer went down with injury, I can just remember this absolutely SICK feeling in my stomach, almost as if the Leaf's season was over. This will be the first year that IF/When Reimer goes down with injury I will not be worried in the least. This was an organizational protecting move and im all for it.
    Will it work long term? No, probably not, but when it comes time to decide who our goalie will be for the forseeable future, we will have two increadible options to take our pick from, and then we can trade the other for a king's ransom to address other needs on the team.
    I dont think people's lack of trsut in Reimer is due to his play, especially from last year, but its the worry of him staying healthy, if he can do that than he has a bright future in the NHL, wether it be on the Leafs or another team. Either way, I dont care what people say right now, this is only a benifit for the team and thats all that matters to me...

    1. Well said, Brent, thanks. The thing I will say is that I wish I could believe Leaf management's "issue" with him is about injuries and not his play. I just can't quite accept that. He's not a Nonis guy, and those things can matter a lot.

      As for injuries, I concede that is a question, but every goalie, heck every player, is one bad hit (concussion) or one bad knee injury from facing the reality of not quite ever being the same player again. In three months, we could be having the same discussion about Bernier. Yes, Reimer has an injury "history", but I'm not seeing where he is a player who is facing retirement the next time he gets hurt, unless it's the same kind of thing that could happen to any player.

  9. It's not only interesting that Nonis felt that the Maple Leaf team needed Bernier. That he actually managed to get him amongst all the teams that I feel needed him more. Perhaps there is some inside information (he had some kind of inside advantage over other teams) that Nonis felt that he just couldn't pass up trading for the young L.A. goalie. That the price was just too good to not experiment with his supposedly goalie situation.

    Perhaps this tinkering of Nonis would devastate most the egos of most NHL goalies but I feel that Reimer's character will win this situation over in his favour in time.

    1. There's no doubt Reimer has character and if anyone can handle this situation, he can, drgreg. Thanks.

  10. You know, we Leaf fans are often too quick to pin the blame on one player, when in fact every crucial moment of a game has a hundred other moments and decisions and bounces that lead up to it. Flat out, Reimer saved our bacon - repeatedly! - in the playoffs. There's no way we would have made it to a game 7 without his play. While there's no question we'd like some improved rebound control and a better catching hand, the fact is that if we could have won a face-off or two or scored on a breakaway or just cleared the puck from our zone once or twice or put it in the empty net, that series was ours.
    Like some above, I believe Reimer is a real competitor - he wouldn't have made it to the NHL if he wasn't! - and his game has steadily improved. I don't think Bernier is quite a slam-dunk yet, despite the high praise in some quarters. But if Bernier does prove to be everything we're hearing, then it's to the team's benefit, and who can complain?
    One of the understandable issues facing Nonis et al is remolding the team to be the one they want, not the one they inherited. Unfortunately, Reimer is in the latter category. Now he has a chance to prove himself, and I bet he welcomes it. As you've said, Michael, his aw-shucks demeanour doesn't mean he isn't a fierce competitor.

    1. Always appreciate your take on things, Gerund O- that wisdom only comes with time and experience, eh Gerund!

      I so agree, we can try to blame Reimer for Game 7, but that is not, for me, the full picture. As you say, every game, especially key games in the playoffs, are made up of hundreds of "moments". His mistakes were just one part of an overall letdown.

      And you're also right, Nonis' job is to improve the roster and get us where we haven't been in a long time. He has to do what he feels he needs to do. Whether this move was the right one, we'll see. I'm guessing we'll have two young guys who want the same space really badly! Thanks Gerund.

  11. Thanks Alex C.- (I tried to answer below your comment above, but some glitch prevented me from doing so.) Lots of different perspectives here today (as usual!) but I always appreciate your perspective on the issues of the day. Take care, Alex!

  12. Although I understand your worry that the competition between the two goalies may result in the shaken confidence and an unhealthy competitive spirit I cannot not be excited about going into the season with two hot young goalies.

    There's always a goalie tandem - there's always two goalies - usually it's a vet and a young back-up or two young goalies neither of which is great, or two veterans but in every instance there's a battle for #1.

    Our goalie tandem is the envy of the NHL right now. This kind of situation has worked in the past (Montreal with Halak and Price and Annaheim recently come to mind) and I'm hoping that in part a decision to bring in Bernier had to do with the fact that Nonis and co. felt that they could count on Reimer to be a professional and continue to rise to the occasion. Can you think of some examples where this kind of experiment with 2 young goalies backfired?

    So whereas I completely understand the reason for acquiring Bernier - goalies are inconsistent and they get injured - you can simply not count on one goalie to be solid for you for a season and the better the tandem you have the better your chances of success - the problem arises when one of the goalies earns a big contract and the other one has to be let go. Then you're back to square one.

    Anyhow, I think we're in a great position for this coming season and if both goalies play well we may be able to keep them for a bit longer until one of them becomes a solid #1. Between them, these two guys just don't have enough experience to be fully trusted just yet.

    On the whole, though, it's just so hard to tell which goalie will provide the saves and consistency. The management is just improving our chances.

    If there's a point to this story it is that, giventhe fact that goalie performance is so unpredictable it's best for the team to maximise it's chances by having 2 good goalies rather than one and that is what we have here right now.

    1. Hi leafdreamer- you make some great points. Let me just say a couple of things.

      I want to be clear: I an not saying I think Reimer now has "shaken" confidence (he may be ticked; I would be) or has lost or will lose his confidence. I do think he has to wonder why the heck the team had to go out and get a second number-one goaltender, when he has fought for three seasons already (and everything he did beforehand just to get here) to "earn" the job- and done pretty darn well behind a mediocre team.

      For me, Montreal did not work out- one of those guys had to leave.

      You cannot keep two young, aspiring, talented goaltenders happy., Just can't do it.

      In Toronto, we saw this in the '80s with Wregett and Bester. It never really worked. You didn't have to go too far back then to read between the lines. They both put on a brave face, tried to say the right things, but it was miserable. And the team never had a true number-one, and I think suffered for it.

      The idea of having two excellent young goaltenders (for all thew reasons you cited) sounds great. Maybe it will be. I just don't see it working here.

  13. Hi folks, it´s been a while.

    I agree the whole situation is a bit "fishy". Although having 2 good goalies is better than just one, not to say anything negative about Scrivens (at times I thought he was better than Reimer as you may remember). We know Carlyle goes with who he thinks is playing better, so it's simple, if Reimer outplays Bernier he will start more games.

    I don't think anyone should feel entitled to anything, especially in the sports world, not only to mention salaries, but the nature of sports itslelf. The whole idea is to be better than the other guy and beat him out. And pros shouldn't feel bad or hurt if a their team tries to upgrade.

    That beeing said, the situation could be bad. The only way this can be a good thing is if Nonis has a "Reimer for Tavares" type deal in the works.

    We all see our team and players through "blue lenses" but Reimer is not less of goalie than Bernier. We can just hope they can get along and everything turns out roses.

    By the way, I think we overpaid to get Bernier, in the trade and in salary. But if he turns out to be the next Cujo or the "Eagle", than nevermind.

    1. Good to hear from you, portuguese leaf. You point on entitlement is fair (though let's be honest: Kessel and Phaneuf don't have to worry about their jobs...nor do established number-one goaltenders, but I see your point...)

      Yes, I think there could well be a trade in the works, if Nonis can get what we wants for Reimer. Bernier isn't going anywhere.

      Thanks for chiming in today, portuguese leaf.

  14. With James growing up in a Mennonite community and being a religious man (if you believe Wikipedia) I suspect that though he is unhappy with the situation, likely feels it is unfair, but he will nevertheless accept it as “the will of God”. By which I mean he will accept God has a reason to test him in this way. For some who have a strong faith they may believe that they will be stronger for the challenges God sends them. If this is how he takes it then I think he will have a mental toughness in dealing with this situation that will surprise people. He certainly has come across as somewhat serene in the face of repeated questions about his goaltending skills.
    I hope that he takes the long range view, that if he is able to play to the standards he set in years 1 and 3 with the Leafs, that he will be a starting goaltender somewhere in the NHL with a salary between $2 and $3 million after next year. If he is as well-grounded as he appears to be, I suspect he will not think he has that much to complain about.
    All that said, I think it would be a huge mistake to underestimate Reimer’s competitiveness. If Bernier comes to camp not prepared he will have his clock cleaned.
    So, to summarize, I think James is having a fine summer and getting ready for the fall to answer (once again) those who underestimate him.

    1. Well said, Steve. I want to make clear that, in writing this piece, I was not suggesting that I believe Reimer does not have "mental toughness". He seems to have that in abundance.

      My point is that, regardless of religious beliefs, it is only human to possibly think and feel some of the things I mentioned in the article.

      Do I think he will compete? For sure.

      But is the playing field being tiled away from him, in my view? Absolutely, and he's smart enough to know that. Thanks Steve.

  15. I didn't make it to VLM until late tonight and didn't take the time to read all the responses, so I apologize if an earlier poster has said what I'm just about to say.

    I think you're pretty much bang on with respect to what Reimer thinks about what Nonis thinks about him. I also think Nonis is in way over his head as GM, an opinion that I'm sure you've been able to deduce from my previous comments. More importantly though, I'm sure Reimer is also aware that last season Carlyle has proven himself to be a coach that will only ice a team he thinks will win the game. If he thinks Reimer is the guy, the fact that Nonis would prefer to see Bernier in net will be a non-factor.

    As long as Reimer beleives (correctly in my mind) that the best goalie will be the number one when October rolls around, he will be fine.

    1. Glad you were able to post- thanks for sharing your thoughts, Oliver.

  16. I certainly find it hard to believe that James hasn't experienced the thoughts you have suggested... it would be entirely unwise to think such thoughts haven't crossed his mind! I do think he is strong in faith and committed to persevering through the adversity as yet another test that will strengthen that faith as Steve Colombo has described. I'm persuaded that James has a maturity beyond his years and am hopeful he will remain a Leaf with a significant career for us to enjoy, while cheering for a fine young man as he makes his way in the world.

    I've been pondering another aspect of this tandem situation, that being my observation of Quick and Rask pertaining to their contracts following a cup final... both received a rather 'hefty' reward. Even if one of our goalies outperforms the other in a playoff run, it might still be a Halak/Price situation where the unexpected player is dealt. It may be that Bernier would bring 'a king's ransom' (pun intended) after a couple successful runs and Reimer may well be prepared to join the ranks of the elite (under the radar of 'expectation').

    Combining the foregoing with the ability to have each contract leap-frogging the other in alternating years, we may see an interesting opportunity to retain 'a #1 goalie' even if the better playoff performer (in one of the next 2 years) could score a great contract, he may be the one dealt where the cheaper contract might remain. Either player would garner interest irrespective of (potential) performance-related contract demands, but I suspect Reimer still has some cache, in this regard, if Nonis is willing to see what he's got already.

    Further to all this, I remember how grounded and appreciative Reimer was with his first NHL base salary and think he has a very balanced perspective respecting the balance between contentment/happiness and contract$. He may be a rare individual that would prefer stability over dollars (to some extent). Of course, this remains to be seen, just thought it may be a possibility that might make him more 'attractive' if he can put in an injury-free and successful year soon.

    1. Nicely said, InTimeFor62. We have been able to follow the career arc of an impressive young guy, for sure. Whether he stays a Leaf or not remains to be seen. (Hey, we may fall in love with Bernier, too- we'll see.)

  17. I have wavered back and forth on the merits of the Bernier deal. At first I hated it but then rationalized that maybe it was a good move based on Reimer's injury. On further thought I am back at my original position.

    I like James Reimer. I think he will be a #1 goalie in the NHL for years to come. He has to be hurt and angry that management (Nonis and Carlyle in particular) would bring in a young goalie and sign him to a contract superior to his.

    If I were Reimer I think it would be plain to me that aforesaid management does not value my contributions very highly but are in fact looking to replace me. Instead of acknowledgment and praise for a job well done they are saying that I am not good enough.

    My take is that's if it's not broke, don't try and fix it especially at what is a large cost in resources.

    I like Ben Scrivens and believe he will be a capable NHL goalie as well. I like the potential of Matt Frattin and I believe that he would have been a valuable third line winger for the Leafs this coming season. Also I miss the 2nd round draft choice and the $500,000 cap space. l will also miss the cap space taken up by Bernier's new contract as the Leafs attempt to sign their RFAs. That contract may cause them to lose another player.

    1. Believe me, I understand the "wavering", Pete Cam. Who doesn't like the idea of acquiring a potentially outstanding young goalie?

      That said, the points you raise do give pause. Thanks for posting.

  18. I am amazed at the optimism surrounding Jonathan Bernier, but think Leaf fans need to be reminded that there is no guarantee that Bernier will play as well as Reimer.

    Bernier has never played season as a number one. He has only played 62 NHL games and the most in one season is 25 games behind a stellar LA defence. We don't know how he will do behind the Leafs defence with the pressure of a number one goaltender.

    To illustrate how premier L.A. King goaltending prospects can be somewhat disappointing one only needs to look back in history to one with an ever better pedigree.

    The Kings once had the best goaltending prospect in the entire draft. He was the first goalie taken, 7th overall, which is really high, even higher than Bernier. The kid won gold with the U 17 and under U 18 Team Cananda and then won back-to-back gold medals with Team Canada in the junior championship, going undefeated in tournament play.

    As a King, he would be one of the few NHL players ever named to the all-rookie team in consecutive seasons. Sounds like an amazing prospect and a long term franchise goaltender? Who is the prospect?

    Jamie Storr

    Storr was ok, but he was never that franchise goaltender. He was a middling goaltender. He didn't play that much: 219 games over 10 seasons. The most he ever played in one season was 45 games. In some years, the Kings went with an aging Felix Potvin in the twilight of his career over Storr. In the 2001-2002 regular season, Potvin played 71 games while Storr only played 19. In the playoffs it was all Potvin. In fact, over his entire carreer, Storr only played 5 playoff games.

    It’s a legitimate question: What if the Leafs just acquired a more modern version of Jamie Storr?

  19. Hi Michael - I like Reimer too but I loved him in 2011 playoff push.

    You wrote about Reimer and how is he viewing this new situation he finds himself in. In the next few paragraph's I write about how management might be trying to come to grips with what they have in the young net minder.

    Personally I didn't see anything in game 7 that made me think it was Reimer fault that they lost. I saw some bad defence (by all 5 guys) out there. It wasn't Reimer's fault that they lost but he definitely didn't steal them enough games to have put Management's doubts to rest. I'd say he stole two games from the Bruins but he also didn't play that great in game 1 and 3 (if memory serves me).

    So why is Management so concerned about one playoff series ? Because Reimer is UFA after next year. He is going to get big dollars (3 - 4.5 million a year) and will probably get a term of at least 4 years. Management wonders if Reimer is the 2010-2011 Reimer that steals games or the Goaltender of 2013 that the coach doesn't ask to steal games for us (which Carlyle said at many many pre game press conferences).

    Can Reimer retain the number one spot ? Yes he can - but only if he is the Reimer of the 2011 playoff push. I think that's why we are so attached to him. He was unreal at that time. But to be honest - I've seen a good goaltender this last year but he hasn't been quite as sharp at seeing the puck since his concussion at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. That is why he is having trouble with rebound control - he isn't picking up the puck quickly enough to trap it. Maybe the effects of the concussion will fade over the summer and he will once again see the puck well.

    So what does he need to do ? He needs to steal us games - if he can steal us some games in october and november than we will have a horse race between him and bernier. If he plays the way he did through a lot of the regular season this year - he is out and Bernier will be in by default because he is Nonis's guy.

    Maybe someone heard the following rumour also … I am having trouble remembering the source but
    I remember hearing something that Nonis wanted to do the trade for Bernier mid year but that Carlyle said that Reimer was giving his all and you couldn't ask more of him. Basically the coach thought it would have been unfair to Reimer - maybe believing that the team would bock at such a move when a guy is such a heart and soul guy.

    It's easy to imagine Nonis saying to himself "Damn it Randy ! I knew we should have traded for Bernier !". I don't think Nonis is sold on Reimer - is he willing to be proven wrong ? - yes I think so. But Reimer is going to have to be 'Lights out' good this year in order to do it.

    you have a great little thing going here at VLM Michael - very happy you decided to keep it going !

    J Ash in Calgary

    1. I appreciate that you looked to put things into some possible context from Nonis' perspective. It's difficult to know, of course, what these guys are thinking but that certainly sounds like it could be close to the mark.

      I agree that Reimer had a wonderful showing in the second half of the 2010-'11 season. He sort of led the team somewhat single-handedly (though it's never really single-handed, I realize) back into playoff contention.

      While I certainly acknowledge the performance issues you noted regarding his work this past season (possibly still concussion-related, yes), I guess the reason I was even more impressed with his play this season is that the Leafs weren't just making a miracle surge to the playoffs, they were in a playoff spot and looking to at least maitain that, if not build on their seeding. They were being chased down and he still led them to the playoffs and pretty darn near a first-round upset.

      There's lots of work for Reimer to do, for sure, but he's getting there.

      His next contract may be a concern for Nonis, agreed, but from Reimer's perspective, if anything at all goes wrong this season, he may never get a real chance to demonstrate he is worth the kind of deal you reference (3- 4 and 1/2 million a year...). That will be a frustration for him (and his agent) if the upcoming season unfolds that way.

      Again to be clear, I'm not "anti"-Bernier. But I do have concerns about this situation, regardless of the happy/brave face everyone will put on come training camp.

      Great stuff, thanks for chiming in, J Ash.