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After a loss at home against the Islanders, just one question…

There are usually positives to reflect on after most any close game,  even when your team loses. And there were certainly some for the Leafs on Tuesday night at the ACC against the Islanders. They outshot the visitors; maybe even out-chanced them.  Gleason played his first game for the blue and white. (He'll need to adjust but he may help.) Bozak scored a goal. Lupul had some pep in his step.  Kadri set up the late Leaf marker. Rielly played more than 20 minutes.

But one nagging question kept coming back to me, and it was lingering even before the puck was dropped to start the game.

Why was James Reimer plied to the Leaf bench yet again?

Let me take a step back.  This is not another pro-Reimer rant, though readers can interpret it that way if they’d like. VLM regulars will know that I have been saying for ages that both of our netminders need and deserve a chance to play a run of games in a row.  They both need to know that they will keep the net for a while, even if they give up a bad goal here or there or have a bad outing. 

So while I would indeed have appreciated Reimer being given that opportunity at some point this season, that Bernier did receive Carlyle’s obvious support heading up to and including the Winter Classic was in fact what I had been calling for.  Let these guys play, say, five games in a row and then tell the other guy, “now the net’s yours…”.

And if I’m following my own logic, I guess I should say that Bernier deserved to start Tuesday against the Isles, despite giving up five goals against the Rangers on Saturday night.

But the difference is that Bernier had already had his run of games.  He did OK and absolutely played well at times but was not consistently brilliant during all those starts.  He won some games, though the Leafs need shoot-outs to win most of those contests.

But he clearly ran out of gas Saturday night.  That the team was looking for a spark and the coach went with Bernier against New York on Tuesday just firmed up my worst fears:  the “done deal” that I’ve talked about here for months has indeed come to pass.  Bernier is the favoured guy, from Leiweke and Nonis all the way down to Carlyle. 

I have no idea if Reimer would have played well against the Islanders Tuesday night had he been given the start.  Maybe he would have struggled, just like Bernier so painfully did.  But he wasn’t even given the chance.

I know those who prefer Bernier and see him as simply a better goaltender than Reimer will say Bernier has earned his place as the starter.  I have said as much (though with some caveats, as I outlined in a recent post).  But if the Leafs wanted to “lose” Reimer, now the obvious back-up, they have likely been successful.

Oh, I don't for a moment think the kid from Western Canada—who has been about the most joyful Leaf I can remember—will pout, give up or any of that.  Athletes like him are too proud to ever throw in the towel.  It’s just that it is so obvious that the Leafs have been trying to find an excuse to make Bernier the guy all season, and now that they have managed to convince us he deserves it, well, he has laid an egg in two key games in a row against Eastern Conference rivals.

The Leafs are life and death to hold on a to a playoff spot these days (we all recognize that the only time the standings matter is at the end of the season, but you know what I mean).  And I thought this game was an ideal opportunity to slide Reimer back in net and maybe give the team a boost. You have to believe he wanted the start. But it never happened.

Is it because Reimer dared to “look” at the coach after being pulled in his last game?  Or is it that the guy has really played that badly?  If so, could the Leaf brass tell me exactly when that lousy play started—and how long his poor performances lasted?  Where is the evidence of extended poor play? He has had a few rough outings, sure, and some sterling ones as well—just like Bernier.

When people here kept saying Reimer has a bad glove hand and can’t control rebounds, I kept saying every goalie has their flaws.  Bernier is composed and confident, yes, very much a technique netminder. 

But no goalie is—or will be—perfect.

Myself, I like fighters, guys who battle.  Yes, you need technique and skill too, but in my mind, Reimer has the skills needed to be a very good NHL goaltender.  He has shown he can handle the job.

So while there are many other issues facing this baffling Leaf squad (well discussed here in the last VLM post), this particular “issue”, to me, has set the club back.  It’s an uncomfortable situation that is making a difficult season even worse.

I could tell the Leafs, “I told you say”, but they wouldn't listen.

Anyway, you all likely saw the game.  Discuss whatever you’d like.  I’m a tad frustrated, I guess. I just don’t get the thinking around Reimer.

I’ll simply say this: he’ll be gone soon enough, and maybe then some people will appreciate what he brought to the team—a club that is badly in need of character.


  1. I posted this over on Leafs Nation after the loss to the Rangers. I think it rings even more true today:

    "Bernier often plays at a very high level, but he doesn't seem to have the ability to play well for long stretches. He can't seem to win 4 in a row and he seems to play better with 3 or less consecutive games.

    This might be part of the reason why Bernier hasn't yet become a starting goaltender, despite his save percentage, age and draft pedigree. Bernier hasn't won 4 games in a row this season.

    That second [Rangers] goal killed the Leafs. Up to that point the Leafs weren't bad. I think they were actually outshooting the Rangers. That goal goes in and I think the team say to themselves Bernier is having another one of those nights when he is letting in some bad goals and from that point on the Leafs mailed it in.

    Look at Bernier's save% in his game log for this season

    5th game .839 9th game .886 15th game .857 17th game .896 18th game .897 20th game .895 21th game .870 23rd game .893 30th game .844

    The only time Bernier plays well for a long stretch is his 9th to 14th game and his 23rd to 29th game. In each of those runs he gets some time off. During the 9th to 14th game run for Bernier, Reimer comes in and gets 5 starts. In the 23rd to 29th game run, Reimer gets 3 starts and there is the Christmas break with 3 days off on December 24, 25, 26. After a nice break, Bernier posts 3 wins.

    Carlyle needs to resist the temptation of playing Bernier too much. The Leafs goaltending tandem will be much more effective if Carlyle regularly gives Reimer a start."

    Staring Bernier, who seems to tire easily, for 6 games in row is just crazy. Carlyle needs to understand the individual strengths of each goalie and play them to that. My thoughts are that the rotation is Bernier for two or three games and then Reimer until he loses, then repeat. Reimer can real off 8 good games in row, but sometimes doesn't...Bernier can't. Bernier can play at a higher level, but only for short stretches.

    I'm a bit surprised Leafs management hasn't figured this out. It's right there in the numbers.

    1. Those are interesting stats, DP. Thanks.

      The only issue I have (not with your post) is that Reimer needs more than "a start" here and there. That's part of the whole problem here for me. The Leafs have two number-one goaltenders. You simply cannot treat one like a back-up after a bad outing. In fact, they shouldn't be treating Reimer like a back-up at all, but they pretty much have all season.

      They surely don't expect Reimer to be outstanding if he plays once in a while.

    2. Why even give Bernier the 2-3? He has shown he can come off the bench and play well. I would bring him in when Reimer is having an off night and for the weaker half of a back to back. The odd game thrown in as needed, but with this year's compressed schedule there should be enough quick turnarounds to give a backup adequate work.

    3. "The only issue I have (not with your post) is that Reimer needs more than "a start" here and there."

      No, I don't mean to sound that way at all. As long as he is playing well, and especially if he is winning, Reimer should keep playing. If he goes on a 6 game run, let him play

      Even if they lose, but he posts above a .92 save%, I could see keeping Reimer in, he will battle.

      But rarely if ever play Bernier more that 3 or 4, even if he is playing well . It's proven not to work. The next games are likely to be stinkers.

      That's when Reimer should again get his chance,

      If you do it right, it probably works out to close to an equal number of games.

  2. When I realized Bernier was starting I said I didn't see any way Reimer would be around next year. My reasoning was that it would require more than one bad outing by Bernier IN CONJUNCTION with a couple of good ones by Reimer to change the status quo (apologies for the caps, I don't know how to do italics here).

    I'm not so sure anymore. It seems we're halfway there. While I was not impressed with Bernier on Saturday, it was a team failure. Tonight though, the analysts hit the nail on the head during the second intermission when they noted the Leafs had actually played well, and Bernier was the problem. All Reimer needs to do is string together a couple of solid outings and this controversy will be turned on its head. Perhaps the double standard should be taken into account; when I say "a couple" that means 2 for Bernier, but maybe 4 or 5 for Reimer.

    None of this will mean anything if Carlyle chooses to go back to Bernier for the next game. If that is the case I will be unable to offer any further opinions for the foreseeable future. I'm sure I will still visit and read this blog, but I will have nothing of value to contribute since I will not be watching Leafs games if it becomes evident that protecting Nonis' pride (or something similarly inconsequential) is the main goal of this organization.

    1. Your last paragraph hits the nail on the head for me, Oliver. Except I don't need to wait any longer. My views were in place months ago. I saw this coming and it has unfolded precisely as some of us envisioned- and have written about all season long.

      Again, the Leafs want Bernier to be the guy. Fine. Then move Reimer. He's not doing us any good playing as a fill-in. There are plenty of goalies who could do that job. Thanks Oliver.

  3. The problem with moving Reimer is that we need another good goalie in return, who can play at an equal level. Not so easy to find. I expect we'll see Reimer in one of the next two games - I hope he does well.
    The bad news for the Leafs right now is that they're losing no matter who's in net. Remember two-three years ago, when Reimer would let in a softy after some great saves and the team would just deflate? Deja vu all over again.
    It's easy to blame the goalies, but it's a team game and our team currently just doesn't have what it takes to win. Moving a goalie won't help. In fact, I looked at the criteria Mike Babcock said were used to pick the Olympic team - skill and hockey smarts. I'm beginning to feel we don't have enough players with that second quality.
    Has one move made by management improved the team this year? (And we'll leave Bolland out because the sample is too small.) Not on paper, not in the future, but now, but in real life. Moving Reimer would just add to that list of futility.

    1. I'm not "blaming" goalies at all. I have been very clear: even great goalies have bad games, bad stretches, bad seasons. Our issues are far more nuanced than a bad goal here and there.

      My point is management (and Carlyle) have messed with Reimer and there was simply no need to do that. You don't need Reimer if he is going to play once in a while. Bernier is their guy and since that is the case, he needs to play without anyone looking over his shoulder hoping to "reclaim" the top job. A team needs a back-up that knows he is the back-up.

      Otherwise, we'll just have this constant carousel, and that will not work, at least in my view. Thanks Gerund.

    2. Just to be clear, I didn't mean to imply in any way that you were "blaming" the goalies. My feeling is that management is unjustly fingering Reimer as in some way responsible for recent losses. I think we're more or less in agreement here - I just don't see how a trade for Reimer, if that's in the works, will benefit the team. But I can't say that either goalie has stepped up and grabbed #1 status, either.

    3. Earlier in the season, we probably could have made a case that either goalie had "earned" the spot. I'm sure many Leaf fans may still feel Bernier has. They have both faced a lot of shots and maybe that has taken a toll, I don't know. I think we all knew they couldn't be great every night forever.

      As for the trade, on a personal level I would hate to move Reimer, ever. But this situation seems so un-workable. I know it's important to have another guy to play as a back-up and we have to get value in return in a trade, but if this situation is unhealthy all around, I wonder if they will consider a move before the deadline. Carlyle clearly doesn't "trust" Reimer. Thanks Gerund.

  4. I felt that Bernier was given the net tonight so that the favoured choice could regain some confidence when they could expect a push-back from the rest of the team. Despite this favour being bestowed upon him with opportunity to shine, Jonathan was 'just average' tonight with a couple questionable goals that would never be tolerated with Reimer.

    If Carlyle had pulled Bernier tonight, then all hope of 'restored confidence' on a long run in the net would be lost, so it seems that giving James the same opportunity to 'pull one out for the team' was less important than demonstrating who's net it is.

    I expect Reimer will get one of the back to back games on Thursday or Friday, but it is beyond obvious that 'ready or not' Bernier has been anointed #1 and there's little James can do about it (unless April could be convinced to arrange for a 'tap to the knee' on Bernier a la Tonya Harding's recent debacle anniversary - clearly joking, because the Reimers are of much better 'stuff' than the aforementioned).

    I hope that James keeps a 'stiff upper lip' and will be sad to see it replacing the genuine smile to which we've become so accustomed. He will continue to give his best, but I fear his best has been diminished by his treatment by the team and through no fault of his own.

    Once he truly notices how he's being handled by the Leafs (likely relying upon his character to keep him in check, when he deserves better) it will be hard for that infectious joy and will to thrive to be given to an organization that is not being a good steward over the gift he has given them. I speak from experience... sometimes I have been caught up in the pure joy of being part of something, but after repeated 'abuses' I have lost the capacity for 'my all' to be 'all that it once was'... this is a difficult thing for a young man to face and I truly feel for him and wish him all the best... just wish it could be with us, under better circumstances.

    Hope the fans don't turn on Bernier while he finds himself or this will just be a disastrous debacle all around...

    1. Thanks, InTimeFor62. I think you "get" what I'm talking about with Reimer. He brought something special to a franchise that badly needed a few years ago and still has that quality that makes him a proud Leaf. But the organization has made its choice and he can see it all too well. You have well described what happens when a person who was so committed sees that commitment not returned.

      I think fans will support Bernier. He'll play well and should do a good job here in the years ahead.

  5. Michael,

    First off, really have enjoyed the Podcasts, keep up the stellar work. I am just about at my lowest point of confidence about this team, as well as level of caring about them.

    7-1 against the Rangers who played the night before, played their backup, on Saturday. Tonight we face the Islanders who played last night, and started the worst goalie in the League, and we lose again. The coach dresses both meatheads, and then plays them 5 minutes, Holland plays less than both of them. They have something like 5 wins in regulation in the last 30 games. I am at a total loss to get a grip on anything this team does.

    Reimer should have been in net tonight. It was unfathomable to me that you start a guy who was in for five against in a bad loss the game before. You know I don't care who the goalie is as long as the Leafs keep the better one. Starting Bernier tonight makes me think about the hubris of the coach and management staff. Frankly, I don't like it. It smacks to me of the 'I'm smarter than all of you kind of attitude', that some guys take. Why couldn't both of them get a fair number of starts? Neither of them was ever going to get 70, this entire thing is unnecessary. Why not a 47-35? Next offseason was a good time to make a decision and trade one of them. This is why the Leafs can't have nice things. No matter what this organization does, it ends up being the wrong thing to do, almost without fail.

    This team makes me so angry that I could smash the coach with a toaster. After I got my waffles, everybody loves waffles.

    1. For me, Jim, this all seems to fall in line with the Leafs being not that shrewd as an organization and frankly, rather un-likeable.

      I'm biased, as I have disclosed here before, but it started when the let Quinn go. They replaced him as GM with a young guy who knew precious little about the intricacies of running a hockey organization. Yet he was in and Quinn was out. It took time to unravel what that GM did.

      Then in came a fellow with so much hubris that it was impossible (for me) to like the way the team operated. Oh they had all the nice, "we don't trade guys at certain times of the year" stuff, but that's all self-aggrandizing, look how great I am stuff.

      Now, we have a "President" in Leiweke who has talked already way too much about things he has no clue about. But the rest of us who have supported the franchise for decades, well, we are not important, obviously.

      To the rest of your post, I, too, could not help but notice Holland (one day spoken of as a second line centre; the next day playing four minutes) stuck to the bench. Sometimes being a Leaf supporter is like being at Disney World- so much going on, but nowhere near as much fun...

  6. Hi Michael.
    I don't get Leafs TV and I have to stream games. I may not have seen the same intermission discussion as you. I've seen some odd goals on Bernier, but that one was a whopper. How does that even happen? The panel tonight with Dregger, for the first time I can recall, had some serious questions about why Bernier was in net again after being pulled, why he wasn't pulled tonight, why James is never left in to battle yet Bernier is , etc. It sure took them long enough! They seemed to expect something to hit the fan after this loss. It's too bad, the Leafs had a good chance tonight. C.N.

    1. Hi C.N.- thanks for sharing that. I don't usually watch intermission stuff (can't stand the talking heads any more, on any of the networks) but if that was what they discussed, they are late to this discussion. We identified that issue a long time ago here.

  7. Sigh.

    This was all so avoidable. The Leafs just can't help but shoot themselves in the foot. After last season you would have thought that they were heading in the right direction. Instead they got distracted by the shiniest bauble on the free agent market who has provided almost nothing of value this year. They have a great young, homegrown netminder with two excellent years and one average year (caused by a concussion by a dirty hab ) and decide of all the pieces on the team that is where they had to spend their time and energy "upgrading" the past summer. They trade for a talented young centerman, who if he plays 25 games costs them a second round draft pick instead of a third and then proceed to put him on the fourth line getting less than 4 minutes a night. Just baffling.

    Like you mentioned in a reply Michael, this is really a hard team and organization to like. They never seem to realize what they have, always thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Have an arrogance that is wholly unearned. A good example is Bernier's incredulity that someone would think he deserved to get pulled after 2 bad goals following a terrible night before. It is just an insult to us the fan. We know Reimer would get yanked after the second goal tonight, it's not even a debate. Yet Bernier feels he should get the chance to battle back. Does management think we are stupid? Do the players think we are just a bunch of idiots with no knowledge of the game? What has Bernier done at the NHL level to be so arrogant? The arrogance of this team from ownership down to players is just so ridiculous. From fake apologies in newspapers for missing the playoffs two years ago to we need to rip down all the history because it overwhelms the players this team is so full of itself and they haven't done a dam thing in half a century.


    1. Sigh, indeed, Willbur. Your post should be highlighted on the desks of every MLSE executive, but they wouldn't care enough to print it off.

  8. I wish Jim and a few others could march up to Leiweke and repeat their posts in person. After all these years we fans DESERVE some nice things, waffles included. C.N.

  9. Michael, I am trying to be diplomatic about this, much as I know you are, even knowing we both have felt the same way for a long time here. Leiweke brought in his crown jewel Bernier and publicly disregarded Reimer. I don't know if Nonis or Carlyle truly share his opinion on the matter or if they are just that gutless to go along with the program. I am not going to say I have anything against Bernier. He has been pretty good overall, and in fact has outright won some games for the Leafs that they should have lost. All that said, I have not seen him outshine Reimer, they have both done an admirable job this season. Bernier simply had a bad game Saturday, and he really turned in a stinker last night. I have many times said that, being the father of a goalie, I am sensitive toward them and how they are treated. I get that it hurts to be blamed for the failures of the team in front of you, I get how it hurts to get pulled out of a game whether it is your fault or not.

    I simply cannot understand the double standard that has clearly been set here. Reimer gets shelled, he gets pulled. He also does not get the next start. Bernier got pulled for the first time with the Leafs on Saturday, and he was back in net on Tuesday, and left in a game that he clearly was not sharp in. DP in an earlier post cited evidence that Bernier tires and becomes less effective as the starts pile up, and that gave me pause to think. Reimer I believe has shown that he is more effective the more he plays. Ron Wilson toyed with him and Gustavsson a few years ago, not allowing either the chance to get in a groove and go on a tear, as he left them both guessing on a near daily basis.

    I feel like I'm all over the place with this post. As much as I have thought that Reimer deserved more credit to start with, is it right to let Bernier stay in through this long stretch and see how he handles it? Maybe I'm all over the place because the Leafs seem to be too, and that is the double standard you have cited here. This has only been a couple bad games, but I am suddenly frightened at the though of Bernier being The Man playing 60-65 games with Reimer getting a fresh start elsewhere and who-knows playing backup here.

    It really is a shame to see Bernier play his worst game for the Leafs so far last night. Toward the end of the first period, I was thinking to myself that the Leafs were playing the way they did when the season started, keeping the shooters to the outside and things weren't such a free-for-all on the ice. I hope they can keep that part up. I also hope to see Reimer back in net.

    1. Thank you for a heartfelt but still measured post, Pete. (You have referenced your son and goaltending before, and I appreciate hearing your views on this. It is likely most fans have not had your experience, though some no doubt have- either themselves playing the position, or one of their children.) Again, I want to be very clear: I am not blaming Bernier for a poor game, either Saturday night or last night. Just as I don't blame Reimer, and don't point at him for Game 7 against Boston. For me, that was on the coach, and the entire team, not simply the goaltender.

      The goalie "double standard" has been in place from the get go and that is unfortunate. As I've said before, I'm always surprised when it seems as though more people don't see it. It really would have been better for the organization to be honest instead of disingenuous and just trade Reimer last summer. Some may recall a post here where I wrote, basically, "Set Reimer free". I still feel that way. The guy has done nothing but be a proud and respectful Leaf on and off the ice and he has been treated shabbily by a classless organization. (Yes, fans will say it's not about being a nice guy, it's about winning. Well, if we could score into an empty net, we would have beat the Bruins and Reimer would be perceived now as a "winner".)

      I think Bernier will play well (he has most of the season) and will obviously be the brass' choice to keep the net for years to come. Fans will support him, I'm sure. Reimer's loss will eventually be a blip for most, but not for me. I still remember Leafs who were treated poorly here ((it's a long list, I won't name them all) and I don't forget. Thanks Pete.

  10. HAHAHA, when I saw the title of this entry Michael, I immediately thought "and that question is... WHY wasn't James Reimer in net???" very frustrating!

    1. And you weren't wrong, Alex- thanks for visiting!

  11. "DP in an earlier post cited evidence that Bernier tires and becomes less effective as the starts pile up, and that gave me pause to think. Reimer I believe has shown that he is more effective the more he plays.... This has only been a couple bad games, but I am suddenly frightened at the though of Bernier being The Man playing 60-65 games with Reimer getting a fresh start elsewhere and who-knows playing backup here."

    They said it really well about Bernier on today's Leafs Lunch:

    "If you can't play 6 in a row, you're not a number one goaltenderin the NHL. It's as simple as that."

  12. Hi Michael

    While I have not necessarily agreed with you in the past on this subject, I felt that the way the Leafs play overall, it would take two excellent goalies to overcome the "suspect system" the team employs. Further, that James will get his just reward in free agency. I never suspected that this issue could possibly become the straw that breaks the camel's back.

    In one of my recent posts, I suggested that things were getting interesting. For me, I am interested in good hockey (which the Leafs are not providing) and the business dynamics of what makes a team successful. This organizations seems to have a penchant for "Seizing failure from the Jaws of Success" I get the feeling of the last day's of the Wilson regime may be happening again.

    For me, the dynamics and vibes currently coming from this organization are not good, and need to be fixed before this season joins the list of low-lites. However, there are few viable options available.

    Viewing postgame interviews of Carlyle suggest a man at a loss for what to do about the situation. The 24/7 video showing Carlyle's pep talk consisting of a string of "f-bombs) does not strike me as one that would motivate today's modern generation. While many see Reimer being mistreated, I see Carlyle believing Bernier is his best option to save his job.

    Player interviews suggest they don't understand what is happening either as they mouth 'one liner bromides' they have been fed but are probably having difficulty buying into. Today's situation is not like the good old days where the Leaf system was fed by the Marlies and St. Michaels from when these kids were in their mid teens. Even then, the type of player who came from the Marlies was different than the type from St. Mikes and was integrated into a whole team. Today, players come from all kinds of organizations and countries with countless "systems". The one thing that looks common, is the "system" conjured up by Carlyle, is quite different than what they and we grew up with. This inmovable desire to fit square pegs in round holes, and an unwillingness to adapt may well prove to be the biggest issue.

    Nonis acquisition of Gleason is proof that little will come from his direction. In fact, having viewed many Carolina games in the past few years, I suspect Liles may be a better fit for them than Gleason will be for the Leafs.

    For me, I am sorry for the Leaf faithful, but continue to find the scene interesting. I am still waiting for the management vote of confidence and/or the player only meeting. Please keep us posted.

    1. Perhaps because of your geographical location (southern U.S.) and your years as a Leaf observer, you can maintain a reasonably detached view of all this- which is always welcome, Ralph (RLMcC).

      You're so right, this is not like the olds Marlie/St. Mike's days. The Leafs (with some blips along the way) had a winning tradition in the '40s/'50s/'60s. That somewhat died with (a) the death of Stafford Smythe and b) the universal draft as it was called back then.

      Right now, I don't know how much Leaf fans trust the organization- in any sense.

      I do agree that Carlyle feels Bernier is his guy. But I also think this was pre-ordained by Leiweke and Nonis. Reimer never really had a shot.

      You referenced looking at things from a business perspective. We all understand that if an employee is made to feel marginalized over a period of time, eventually his/her sense of loyalty lessens, their sense of being un-appreciated kicks in and an unhealthy situation is created.

      The Leafs are longtime masters at creating unhealthy situations I'm sure there will be, as you suggest, a closed door player meeting and a management vote of confidence for the coach. It's all in the management playbook of floundering franchises. Thanks Ralph.

  13. As likeable as he is, Reimer was never going to be the guy going forward after last year's game 7. Whatever you have to say about the 2 good/great years and several good outings during the series, game 7 melt down was the defining moment for him with the leafs since. No doubt the blame can and should be attributed to MANY other factors but Reimer was at the end deem not the player management nor coaching staff will rely upon. If the same situation ever arises, he will not be in net UNLESS absolutely necessary which might be the case now.

    At the end of the day, his style of play didn't help. The whole team panicked and his style only reinforced it. Is it fair? No but it doesn't matter. They wanted someone playing a more calming style and have better rebound control as the system that the team play desperately needs it.

    There are obviously many polar opinions about whether Bernier acquisition was warranted but I believe the move to be sound. A relatively cheap price for someone who appears to have a much higher ceiling. There is nothing wrong with having two good starting goaltenders. Why wouldn't you do it if the price was minimal. Frattin and Scrivens are not collectively better than Bernier. The second and retained salary is irrelevant given the current situation. At the end of the day, Bernier has won games that the Leafs had no business of winning. That in itself is enough to warrant the trade and the bright future is only the icing.

    The question is what to do with Reimer? I believe Nonis will trade him at the deadline if not after the season. The delay simply can be attributed to what is in the system and the return. It simply is not the right time to do it. Although I believe Reimer is a starting goaltender, I don't think he is any better than Bernier even with the recent poor outings. That said, the goals that Bernier allowed recently looked worst than they were.

    Is Bernier favoured? Absolutely. That's just the way it is and that will how Management and Coaching staff wants. I agree with your many points on this topic and hope that when it is truly is resolved with a will be something like this.

    Phanuef, Reimer, Kadri, Gardiner to NYI


    Tarvares and 2015 - 1st rounder


    1. Thanks for posting Lukas. I guess we all see the same picture differently.

    2. I'm genuinely curios. The big difference about Bernier's game and Reimer's game I keep hearing is Bernier is calmer. His play calms the team down and makes it easier for them. Is there any statistical evidence to back this up? Which goalie has the better win loss record? The save % are darn near identical are they not. For all of Bernier's vaunted puck handling skills I would dare say he has coughed up more goals from bad puck handling than Reimer has. I keep hearing that the team plays better in front of Bernier, if that is the case shouldn't he have a better record?

      Look I will agree with you and say Bernier looks more like a classical number one goalie. He is the more technical and has the first round draft status and he looks pretty when he is in net. But there is not one shred of hard evidence that he is in fact better than Reimer. This is a result driven business and Reimer so far has got the job done. He has the better record. Reimer has the better career so far. These aren't perceptions, they are fact.

      I said it before and I will say it again, Leaf management from CEO to GM to Coach was looking for a scapegoat for game seven. They picked three players Reimer, Grabovski and MacArthur. Two of them are gone from the team entirely, the other lost his starting job in the summer. My question is are they any better? If they had never traded for Bernier would they be in a worse position today? The evidence would say no they wouldn't. Reimer dragged a team playing much the same way, out shot every night into the playoffs last year. If Bernier was to start every game from here on out do you have confidence he will do the same because I sure as heck don't.

      Bottom line is this Reimer might not look as pretty doing it but he got the job done as number one last year. Bernier gets six starts in a row and played like crap in a 1/3 of them. I am not at all confident he can get the job done as number one whereas I know Reimer can because he already has.

  14. It's true that hockey is a business and it's run like businesses many of us have worked for. One employee works hard, learns everything needed to do his job well and management gives someone new more money to do your job. Then you help train them. C.N.

    1. hahahah. That's just about the funniest thing I have heard all day. Thanks C.N. that was awesome

  15. What a fun site! Thanks, Wilbur. I'm still laughing at Jim's comments about not having "nice things" and hitting Carlyle with his own toaster. (I have dibs next with a waffle iron. I don't really HATE Randy but I don't want to be left out.) C.N.

  16. Two of the reasons that I was first attracted to this site was the high quality of Michael's insightful and common sense articles and the excellence of the responses from the many regular participants. From the outset, on discovering this site and later becoming a contributor, I have felt that I was among fellow travelers who were lifelong passionate Leaf fans. We may not always agree but there is a high level of respect that permeates the discussions. Hence I have found the article and iiscussion to be both interesting and enlightening.

    You are correct Michael that the death of Stafford Smythe was the major point of delineation of Leaf fortunes. Some of us were fortunate enough to witness the glory years of the late 50's and the 60's at least up to 1967. The post '67 years have had one very disturbing thread; many fine players who were developed by the Leafs, and who loved being a Leaf, have been let go, many times just for the sake of change.

    This brings me to the James Reimer situation. I have been a Reimer booster since he came on board. From 2005-06 to 2009 Mikael Tellqvist, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Andrew Raycroft, Vesa Toskala, Scott Clemmensen, Martin Gerber, Curtis Joseph, Justin Pogge, Jonas Gustavsson, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Joey MacDonald, manned the Leaf nets and produced combined yearly save percentages of .897, .891, .896, .887, and .896, much less than mediocre. James Reimer played 37 games in 2010-11 and posted a save percentage of .921. Injured in 2011-12 it dropped to .900 in 34 games and last season it was .924, among the league leaders. Reimer and backup Ben Scrivens (.915) posted a combined .921 and my feeling was that, in these two homegrown goalies, we finally had the solid netminding that we had so sorely lacked since Ed Belfour.

    Then, along came Leiweke. I blame him for this unnecessary situation. I believe that he saw himself as the savior who would lead the Leafs to the cup but he felt he would have to make a defining move, hence the acquisition of Bernier through his LA connection. It is my feeling that the Leafs were already set in goal and valuable resources (Scrivens, Frattin, 2nd round draft choice and $500,000 cap space) were squandered when there were other pressing needs.

    Reimer doesn't deserve this. He proved himself as a steady and sometimes spectacular goalie. He is a true Leaf and never should have been supplanted as the starter. It will be a crying shame if he is traded. He would become one more ex Leaf who would come back to haunt us.

    1. First off, thanks for the good words, Pete Cam. Since your "arrival" here quite some time ago, you have only contributed to making the discussions even better. Thank you again.

      You cite a list of goalies that were here in that four year-window. Exactly. We finally identified a Leaf who goaltender truly wanted to be here and could also play well- and represent the club off the ice with genuineness and distinction. Yet we throw him to the curb.

      Leiweke is now being applauded for his efforts to do for the soccer TFC squad (MLSE) what he did for the LA Galaxy by bringing in Beckham. Big deal. Anyone can trow big-league money at soon to be over-the-hill players so they can perhaps win a championship in a third-rate league. That makes him a sports guy genius? We're kidding ourselves.

      This is the individual we trust to do something with our hockey team and the legacy that many before him (who actually understood the game) worked to build?

      We all acknowledge it has not been a winning legacy in recent decades, but as we have discussed here on many occasions, they have come close on several occasions, 1993, '94, '99 and '02 being examples. A break here and there and the Leafs could have been fighting for the Cup any one of those seasons. And there have been other other outstanding Leaf seasons over the years as well.

      We have thrown too many good players/people to the curb over the years. No organization is perfect and mistakes will always be made, of course. But the Reimer situation is just so disappointing. Thanks Pete.

  17. It just goes from bad to worse, doesn't it?
    Holland is now with the Marlies. We can all see he has talent so is this to keep the 3rd round pick from turning into a 2nd when even 1st rounders don't always pan out?

    The organization, thanks to Leiweke (who is obviously an expert in all hockey matters ), Nonis, and Carlyle, are poised to throw away the greatest goalie, stats wise, in Maple Leaf history. But then what is history to Leiweke? I have seen nothing to convince me that Bernier is, or ever will be, a better goalie or that he will ever have the same commitment to the Leafs that Reimer has. If James-- whose character, work ethic, compete level, and commitment to this team has never been questioned, who gets better every year and is not yet in his prime--is moved it will be the biggest blunder, in an impressive history of blunders, the organization has ever made. Leiweke, who, again, cares nothing about history and who,in my opinion, is barely one step up from a circus ring-master, may well become the most notorious figure in the history of the Maple Leafs. As fans, there's not a thing we can do about it. C.N.

  18. Evidently, this is not the first time that goaltending management has become a problem. Once again, one goaltender is given a long leash and for no discernible reason, the other is held in disfavour. Now it is Reimer who is “stapled to the bench”. I found DP’s fairly small statistical analysis worthy of note. It is suggestive of how the two goaltenders can be managed around Bernier’s apparent cat-like energy for the game (short stretches of play followed by a rest period). Not that the starts should be dictated by Bernier but, as Michael’s intuition told him from day one, ‘the fix is already in’. Now they have to work with the fact that Bernier may not be able to handle a heavy workload and a 1A and 1B line is not just PR, it is the reality. So who is the best Leaf goalie this year? According to the usual measurement standards,save percentage and GAA, it is who I wrote that it was likely to be – Ben Scrivens!

    Dave Nonis has worried me from the get-go. His puzzling lack of faith in Reimer’s abilities has caused greater problems than the current goaltending mess along with the loss of Scrivens, salary cap space, Frattin and a high draft pick. I wrote at the time that his bizarre obsession with Miikka Kiprusoff distracted Nonis from making productive and meaningful deals at last year’s trade deadline. If it were me, I would have been all in going after Jay Bouwmeester. I am sure I wrote that at the time too. What the Blues gave up in exchange, I felt, the Leafs could have bettered if they weren’t so busy chasing down a red herring in the form of a goaltender who was clearly done with the game. This is where I feel compelled to say that I like Bernier (as we all do). I just feel that it was unfathomable mismanagement. After all, just re-sign Scrivens and the goaltending was set up brilliantly for years to come. The defensive corp., as time has shown, not so much. Imagine Phaneuf and Bowmeester with much of the current defense in place. I see a better team. What is more, I see better management.

    I guess the current bumblers we have in upper management is not as bad as other clown acts we have seen in the past. No doubt about that. (The repercussions from sacking Quinn, I believe, continue to this day and beyond.) Nevertheless, it is hard to see how we will compete with the sharp managers running other organizations. Unfortunately, to a large extent Cups are won or lost by upper management and their competencies or lack thereof.

    1. Glad to see you found a moment to post on this one, Bobby C.- I well recall your goaltender discussions here in the past and how you have detailed the ways in which the Leaf brass has mis-managed the situation dating back to the days of Gustavsson. I also recall your "warning" when the Bernier trade was made last summer.

      I think Leaf fans can see Bernier is a good netminder. That's not the question. But the strategy (and subsequent public charade) of keeping the "guy we inherited" while so obviously creating an uneven playing field for a phoney 'competition' has been and still is, at best, disingenuous.

      I'm sure some will say Scrivens wasn't the answer here, even as a back-up. (Though he has looked just fine in L.A., eh?) But has the deal been worth it? We all realize it is too early to tell. But the way the Leafs operate has, unfortunately, become a cause for concern yet again.

      As you state, while Cups are won on the ice, it is the management teams that put the right players (and the right coach) in place that generally make it happen. We need only look at the Red Wings, who never draft "high" but are ultra competitive every season. Very few controversies, very few flat-out lousy decisions, generally "happy" players and a fan base that has something to believe in. Thanks Bobby C.

  19. I have to agree with Bobby.The fixation Nonis has when he wants a certain player goes on and on. He was after Bernier before the beginning of last season and only went to Kiprusoff when a deal with L.A couldn't be reached. The fact is that goal-tending was not the most pressing issue. In fact it wasn't an issue at all. Nonis only looked for a center because he had no choice- he got a better deal than he expected yet where is Holland now? What has Nonis done for the defence corp? Absolutely nothing. Nonis is like a bull-dog with a bone when he wants someone, I'm not so sure we will be happy with who he wants. C.N.

    1. It is always alluring to go after something shinier, eh, C.N., and to think that what you already have isn't quite what you need and want. The "new" is always more exciting. That's what Nonis did with Bernier. He paid a price (significant or not, depending on one's perspective) for Bernier and hey, he may be proven prophetic if the Leafs go on to great success.

      In the interim, the situation has caused turmoil, and that's too bad. Thanks C.N.

  20. Wow - what a discussion! So many interesting opinions, I find myself siding with one, then another poster... like a kid in a candy-shop.

    I guess I'm a weird case myself - I never liked Reimer as a person - I found his smile to be disingenuous, I feel he's one of those resentful and mean-spirited people who put forth an innocent look but are not innocent at all. Like many members of hard-core religious sects he seems to carry a lot of pent-up anger that is bound to come out sooner or later, My suspicion was confirmed when I saw him give Carlyle that look after being pulled in the game against Detroit - instead of being mad at himself, he turned on Carlyle. I went into more detail about this before and you weren't impressed Michael, so I'll just leave it at that here... Perhaps it's unfair of me to try and rationalize it - it's really a matter of taste - I just don't like Reimer's face - I don't like the idea of a 'good boy' - I like my hockey players rough and tough and swearing and 'bad'.

    That's perhaps why I always liked Carlyle. Now, Carlyle is not the most flexible fellow either and does seem to pick on players even without being provoked - that's why Bernier is now the no.1 despite looking like Toskala and Gusstavson at their worst in the last few games. Whereas Leiwike and Nonis probably did want Bernier to become no. 1, I'm not so sure Carlyle was with them. Now, however, he certainly is and Reimer will be traded and that's that. It's too bad that the two couldn't work together because they looked sooooo good through- the first 3rd of the season.

    And we'll be left with Bernier as our starting goalie. And that worries me, not only because he doesn't seem to be very good or capable of starting more than 4 games in a row but also because I really don't see how a French kid who clearly grew up cheering for Habs can give Leafs his all. Reimer, Scrivens and Frattin were just fine. And indeed, as Bobby above points out, Bowmeester would look really good next to the Captain just about now with Reimer and Scrivens behind them.

    I wonder if we can have Scrivens back and if some combination of Reimer and other Habs fan (Kadri?) and the extra puck-moving defensemen could land us a top center. I really hope Gleason turns out to be a good shut-down defenseman.

    I really liked our compete level in the last game against the Islanders - first line produced a goal, Kadri and Lupul were back to their old tricks, the new guy and Phaneuf again pretty much shut the door on opposition's first line, and the forth line was finally hitting and playing with energy, pushing the Isles's goons around... Here's one that goalie (and the bad bounces) lost us. I really hope our goaltending does not revert to that dark era after the lock-out that Pete Cam was reminding us of.

    1. Everyone has athletes they like or don't like, leafdreamer. I guess Reimer is one of those for you.