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On Bernier, Reimer and the Leafs’ crease

Aug 25, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT

Tim Gleason; Jake Gardiner; Jonathan Bernier; AP

It’s hard to believe that James Reimer seems primed to suit up with the Toronto Maple Leafs (and presumably back up Jonathan Bernier) next season, but that is the case.

And — as it turns out — that could be a very, very good thing.

Bernier’s often-stellar play was probably the main reason the Maple Leafs stayed in the playoff picture as long as they did in 2013-14, but the bottom line is that the 26-year-old goalie still only has 117 games of NHL experience under his belt, and fairly close to half (55) of those came last season. In fact, his previous career-high for appearances in a season was just 25.

Bernier’s career numbers — as scant as they are — indicate that he could be for real. Still, goalies are an unpredictable lot, and Reimer represents one of the most qualified backups (or even 1B goalies) you’ll come by next season.

Reimer, also 26, actually has a little bit of extra experience under his belt (140 career games played). Reimer’s career save percentage is .914, not all that far behind Bernier’s .918 mark. He even has two nice statistical seasons under his belt, (20-10-5 with a .921 save percentage in 2010-11 and 19-8-5 with a .924 save percentage in 2012-13).

While many other teams have made long-term commitments to goalies with mixed results, Bernier’s on an expiring deal and Reimer still has much to prove with just a two-year contract. Netminders probably don’t really enjoy fighting for reps and dealing with uncertain futures … but that doesn’t mean their NHL teams can’t benefit from that motivation.

Just ask Reimer, who told Sportsnet earlier this summer he believes the starting job is up for grabs.

Sportsnet: In your mind, are you Jonathan Bernier’s backup or are you coming into camp intent on winning the No. 1 job?

Reimer: Yeah, obviously the latter. I was told there’s a definite opportunity. That’s the mindset I’m coming in with, to really take advantage of the opportunity that’s been given and earn the No. 1 spot.

In other words, it might not have been the prettiest process, but the Maple Leafs might have backed into a great situation in net.

  1. hockeymakesmehappy - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:56 AM


  2. hockeymakesmehappy - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Call me crazy but I like Reimer as a goalie. I think he’s a legitimate starter and takes too much flak for poor play in front of him

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      He doesn’t get nearly as much flack from fans as the media lets on. Fans love him. Media in Toronto love to fabricate drama from nothing. They wanted a goaltending feud the second the team got Bernier. When Carlyle said Reimer was “Just OK” the media ran with it. You know that old saying “If you give them an inch, they will take a mile.”

      Even Reimer admits there was nothing to the feud with Carlyle. Just the media fishing for drama. Turns out “Just OK” does NOT mean “The single cause of all of the team’s problems”… it means “not good, not bad, but just ok”. If there really was a rift they would have traded him by now. Plenty of opportunities to move goalies over the last few seasons. With the RFA status he had it would have been easy to move him if he wanted out.

  3. blomfeld - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    “he could be for real ?” …


    It’s truly amazing that such a question could still be posed after all that Bernier has done there in Toronto eh ? I mean really, what more do these people need in-order to see what even a blind man can see ? The bottom line is that asking Reimer about his prospects with the Leafs in going forward, makes about as much sense as asking RMS Titanic captain John Smith what his plans are for the weekend, one hour ‘after’ striking the iceberg ! Anyway, look for Reimer, Nonis, Carlyle and Booth to all have been ‘liquidated’ by this Christmas … no two ways about it.

    *** NHL’s Top Goalies as per Swedish Daily Expressen ***

    1) Jonathan Quick
    2) Martin Jones
    3) Jonathan Bernier
    4) Cory Schneider
    5) Ben Scrivens

    28) Mike Smith
    29) Alexander Ovechkin
    30) Roberto Luongo

  4. jtreddog - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Long time Leaf fan and haven’t liked Reimer’s style since he arrived…it even got to the point where I refused to watch games he played in…clueless…his pads are like pinball flippers as he repeatedly puts rebounds back into the high slot…even basic things like catching the puck seem to be a challenge…he can’t handle the puck and has no clue about the flow of the game…the team plays totally different when he is in net because they have no idea where the puck is going to end up in their own end…he plays the game overly mechanical/robot like with very little to no ability to play athletically…after 40+ years of pent up Leaf frustration this guy and the Leafs insistence to stand by him might be what ultimately drives me away

    • alliceishome - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      He’s also MUCH quicker going from one side of the net to the other compared to Bernier, and regularly makes ridiculously acrobatic saves look easy. His problem is positional play and rebounds, which hopefully can keep being developed as time goes on. He’s a great 1B who hasn’t reached his peak yet.

  5. jtreddog - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    But what do YOU think?

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