Toronto Maple Leafs: Looking Back at James Reimer’s Time in Toronto
While there is still a chance that James Reimer can still return to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the summer, we look at memorable moments from his career.
By: David Morassutti
When news broke that James Reimer was traded to the San Jose Sharks and people saw what the Toronto Maple Leafs got back in return, there was not an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction with the result of the trade. On one hand the team got what they could for a rental goalie considering the limited number of suitors, but seeing the reaction from fans and the media following the trade shows what Reimer meant to this city. Reimer debuted with the Leafs back in the 2010-11 season where he posted a 20-10-5 record with a .921 SV% and a 2.60 GAA at the age of 22. After that impressive run the Leafs looked like they were set in net for the long run with the former 4th round pick in 2006. It was a rare time where the Leafs properly drafted and developed a player in an important position and were set to make a commitment to him going forward. After an injury riddled season in 2011-12, Reimer was back to his dominant form in the 2012-13 season posting a 19-8-5 record with a 2.46 GAA and a .924 sv% getting the Leafs into the playoffs and keeping them in a tough series against the Boston Bruins.
The collapse in game seven against the Bruins then led to the acquisition of Jonathan Bernier from the LA Kings and created some doubt surrounding Reimer’s future in Toronto. Bernier won the starting job over Reimer in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons but that all changed when Mike Babcock arrived. Bernier was the favourite to once again claim the starting role heading into this season but his poor start opened the door for Reimer to steal the starting gig in Toronto, to the point where San Jose was willing to take a chance on him. If Reimer does not return to the Leafs he leaves with the 10th most wins in franchise history with 85, third in saves with 5,590, and second in career save percentage with a .914 SV%. Beyond the stats, Reimer was also a beloved member of the Leafs community with the contributions that he and his wife April made towards the various Leafs charities. He was also regarded as a great person in the locker room.
There were few players to play for the Leafs that the media liked as much as Reimer and for good reason. Even when he was questionably called out by one former coach on his performance being “just OK,” he did not make a huge deal about it and continued to work on getting better. This is what made him a polarizing figure especially with fans. One moment in particular that stood out to me came at the end of the 2013-14 season after the final game against the Ottawa Senators when the Leafs lost 1-0 and he gave this post-game interview with the possibility of it being his last game. Even in a sad moment Reimer still tries to keep a smile.
We countdown the top 10 moments of Reimer’s career in Toronto.
10. Somehow Keeps the Puck Out of the Net
In his debut season with the Leafs Reimer showed on some nights that he would do just about anything to keep the puck out of the net even with his teammates almost crushing him in the crease.
9. Mister Not So Nice Guy
Reimer was not known for letting his temper get to him but in one game against the Philadelphia Flyers he could not help but stick up for himself.
8. Goes All Out in Overtime to Keep the Puck Out
Even though Reimer gets caught out of position forcing him to spin around and basically use his glove to keep the puck out it shows his inability to give up on a play.
7. Makes Two Unbelievable Pad Saves to Keep the Game Locked at Zero.
There were many moments when Reimer was left out to dry by his teammates as you are going to see in the next few videos but Reimer had a knack for keeping his team in games. Although the Leafs did end up losing this game.
6. Gets Thrown In Late Against the Boston Bruins
Reimer had not played in a long time before having to come in relief of Bernier who gets a player pushed on him. The ovation by Leafs fans shows how Reimer had the full support of Leafs Nation even when things were not always going great.
5. Tries to Keep Faint Playoff Hopes Alive
Near the end of the 2010-11 season, the Leafs only had a slim chance at making the playoffs but the team refused to quit, especially Reimer, who stretches out and robs what appeared to be a sure goal. He received a standing ovation from the crowd, an obvious sign of approval towards him being a part of the Leafs future.
4. Robs Tyler Seguin Twice
Leafs fans were feeling pain after the Bruins drafted Seguin with the draft pick from the Phil Kessel trade. However Reimer was starting to make fans feel better after he robbed Seguin on two prime scoring chances including one on the breakaway.
3. Stretches out in the Shooutout
This had to be one of the best saves in the shootout that I have ever seen. He reaches across and is able to rob Elias Lindholm who looked like he had Reimer beat. However, like he has many times in the past, Reimer has shown that he will not give up on a play.
2. Makes 27 Saves in the Third Period Against the Chicago Blackhawks
This may have been the hardest game for Reimer because he faced a whole game’s worth of shots in the third period alone against the Hawks. Based on past performances, this could be ranked as one of the greatest games in Reimer’s career with the Leafs, considering the opponent and difficulty of the game.
1. Unbelievable Save in the Playoffs
This save has to top the list because not only was it in the playoffs but it was also on Patrice Bergeron late in the third period with the Leafs up by one. Reimer looked like he had no chance to save it but unfortunately for Bergeron, Reimer’s athleticism and no-quit attitude kept the puck out. Bergeron would get his revenge in game seven but the series would not have made it to that point if it was not for Reimer.
Whether people knew him as Reims, Optimus Reim, or the Reiminister of Defence, there is no doubting the impact that he had on this team. Even if it is not this summer, hopefully the Leafs can find a way to bring back Reimer and give him an opportunity to end his career as a member of the Leafs.