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To the Toronto Maple Leafs, James Reimer is more than meets the eye.
For those who have borne witness to the Toronto Maple Leafs transformation since the start of the 2010-11 season, James Reimer is both a revelation and a godsend. And for the 23—year—old net—minder, the world is his oyster.
After the struggling Maple Leafs stumbled mightily through the months of November and December 2010 with J.S Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson, out of sheer necessity, Ron Wilson employed Reimer to weather the media storm directed at Toronto's subpar goaltending situation. What resulted was surely unexpected but incredible none the less.
Making his first start in the NHL on Jan. 1, 2011, James Reimer proceeded to go 20-10-5 in his next 35 games for the Maple Leafs. Although Toronto ultimately came up short, eight points back of a playoff spot in the East, what he became for the organization was a beacon of hope.
With five wins in six starts for the Maple Leafs this season, Reimer has still yet to lose in regulation, contributing to Toronto's nine out of a possible 12 points in that stretch. In fact, since his first start as a Maple Leaf, the team has a record of 25-10-6 when he is in net, a staggaring success rate for a team that had not been expected to be in playoff contention.
Whether Reimer is Toronto's lucky rabbit's foot or not, it is impossible to ignore those numbers as he has clearly earned his way to the top of the Maple Leafs depth chart as Toronto's number one netminder.
Unfortunately James Reimer's Oct. 22 start against the Montreal Canadians was short lived, as he suffered an injury during the first period. Jonas Gustavsson relieved him for the rest of the game, which ended in a 5-4 overtime win for Toronto. Early reports suggested Reimer's injury was nothing major, but he was experiencing symptoms of whiplash.
"Missing in action" is certainly not the way the Toronto Maple Leafs want to be describing James Reimer in the future. However in light of his injury, it's become more and more obvious how large a piece of the puzzle he has become for this team.
The mental strength, maturity and composure Reimer brings to every game allows him to be the game changer the Leafs absolutely need to even consider playing for Lord Stanley's Cup.
For the 2011-12 Maple Leafs, James Reimer has simplified the equation. Without him, they're simply rolling the dice.
With him, anything is possible. I couldn't imagine a more perfect embodiment of what a true game changer should be.