Toronto Maple Leafs: 7 Reasons James Reimer Can Get It Done over a Full Season
Despite an impressive 20-10-5 run during the second half of last season, Reimer is technically still an unproven and inexperienced goalie at the NHL level.
Opinions are still divided on Reimer and the Leafs in general.
Fans of Reimer say he's the saviour of the franchise.
Some critics say the Leafs have all their eggs in the basket that is Reimer, and to a certain extent, I would agree.
Without a healthy Reimer in net, I would be surprised if the Leafs could beat their point total (85) from last season.
The Leafs absolutely need Reimer to be in top form for the entire season.
Here are seven reasons why I believe he can.
James Reimer never forgets where he comes from and how he's gotten to where he is now.
This means he does not take anything for granted.
Even though he knows that he is the undisputed No.1 goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he also knows that the job could easily be taken away from him.
During the first half of last season, Reimer played for the Marlies in the AHL.
For most of the 2008-09 season, he played for the Reading Royals of the ECHL. He also played a few games for the Marlies and the South Carolina Stingrays (also ECHL).
In the 2007-08 season, he played for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL.
In just a few short years, Reimer has gone from being a largely forgotten goalie prospect to being the undisputed starter for the Leafs.
None of this is lost on Reimer and that's part of what makes him such a likable person.
This coming season will be a huge opportunity for him to show everyone that he is a legitimate NHL goalie, so you can count on him to work his hardest to prove that he's earned it.
2) Offseason Routines Haven't Changed
There are concerns about Reimer's ability to handle a full NHL-sized workload, but according to an article on MapleLeafs.com, his offseason routines haven't changed.
That's a sign that he takes his routines very seriously and that he is prepared, both mentally and physically, for the 60-plus games he'll likely be expected to play this coming season.
After all, if he said he'd have to train twice as hard now that he's going to need to play twice as many games, you'd be pretty worried about his attitude and work ethic.
3) Positive Attitude
James Reimer is a nice guy.
I've never met him, but you can tell through the numerous interviews he's done that he's a nice guy.
When he isn't smiling, he's saying positive things about someone or something. You'll never hear him criticize anybody and he often blames himself for shots that go in or games that are lost.
This is the kind of guy you want on your team: a true team player who puts everyone else before himself.
When he wins, he remembers everyone who contributed to the win.
When he loses, he says he'll try harder next time and files the memory away.
Some goalies will toss their sticks in disgust after a bad goal or a loss, but not Reimer.
He takes it all in stride and moves forward.
That's how I know he'll be able to handle a full season in the NHL.
4) Healthier Eating
When you get to the NHL, one of the big lessons you learn is how to eat right.
According to an article in the Toronto Star, Reimer lost between 15 and 20 pounds during the offseason.
The article says he weights 220 pounds while his NHL profile lists him at 208 pounds.
In any case, he says he feels more energetic and more able to work to the best of his potential.
This is great news for Leaf fans, because if Reimer Plus, so to speak, did so well last season, think of what Reimer Lite can do this coming season!
5) No Stranger to Increased Workload
I don't know if anybody doubts Reimer's ability to handle 60-plus games in a single season, but I'm sure some people are concerned about it.
There's no need to worry, however.
Back in 2006-07, Reimer actually played 60 games for the Red Deer Rebels.
Last season, Reimer played 37 games for the Leafs, 15 for the Marlies, and added four for Canada at the World Championships for a total of 56 games played.
I would love for him to play closer to 70 games next season, but realistically speaking, I think he'll end up with roughly 60-65 starts.
Given the number of games he played five seasons ago as well as last season, I think he'll be able to handle 60 starts just fine.
6) Doesn't Crumble Under Pressure
Nothing rattles James Reimer, not even the pressure of playing in Toronto.
Leaf fans are notoriously passionate, insane, and even fickle and can quickly turn on a player they once liked (McCabe, anyone?).
Leaf fans also foam at the mouth for any Leaf-related news, rumours, speculation, and stuff like that, so naturally, the Toronto media covers anything and everything.
From pre-preseason (the stuff before the stuff before the season) to the last game of the season and beyond, the Toronto media will cover it all.
Here's the link to an article in the Toronto Star detailing (i.e. "hydration break at 3:28pm" level of detail) a week in the life of the Leafs.
Here's the link to another article in the Star published almost a year ago about the set of wheels that each Leaf prefers.
I couldn't care much less about cars, but I lapped up every word in that article. Cool, so J.S. Giguere drives an SUV while Tim Brent drives a Volkswagen Jetta Diesel!
It can get like that for folks who play for the Leafs and some people either don't like it or can't handle it.
Granted that most, if not all, of the attention directed at Reimer is positive, but he seems to be handling the pressure quite well. In fact, I'm not even sure he feels any external pressure at all.
As for the media, he always seems happy to give an interview.
What pressure, right?
7) Francois Allaire
The Leafs are fortunate to employ the esteemed Francois Allaire as their goaltending coach.
Young goalies (namely, Jonas Gustavsson and Mark Owuya) have signed in Toronto specifically because they sought his mentorship.
Veteran goalies (Giguere last season) look to Allaire for guidance.
Allaire is given a lot of credit for turning Patrick Roy into the player he was, having helped him win the Stanley Cup in 1986 and again in 1993.
Allaire would go on to win a third Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Ducks.
Reimer fully subscribes to Allaire's teachings, unlike a certain somewhat-recently-departed goalie who no longer plays in the NHL.
Allaire has coached quite a few top goalies in the league, but in this article in the Toronto Sun, Allaire had this to say about Reimer:
"I have started a lot of young kids in the league, some really good ones, and I think James is as good as anyone else I have coached so far in my career."
High praise indeed.