With the Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly kicking the tires on Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo, some are wondering what toll this has taken on James Reimer.
On Tuesday, Toronto’s No. 1 netminder — for now, anyway — let folks know.
“Honestly, it is a distraction. I mean it’s a huge distraction,” Reimer told James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail. “To not be playing is almost a benefit.
“It’s not like it would ruin your play, but it is a distraction. So it’s just one more thing you have to keep off your mind.”
The Leafs are in the midst of one of their longest breaks of the season. They haven’t played since beating Ottawa 4-0 on Saturday, and won’t play against until Thursday, one day after the trade deadline.
For Reimer and backup Ben Scrivens, the stretch is probably a blessing and a curse.
Blessing, because the incessant rumors won’t affect their on-ice play — curse, because they can’t do anything but sit and wait for things to play out.
This isn’t the first time “trade deadline is a distraction” talk has popped up in Toronto, either.
Last year, former GM Brian Burke contemplated instituting his own personalized deadline prior to the actual deadline, in order to “save” his players from the rumors and scuttlebutt.
“It’s to the point where I’m debating doing the same thing I do at Christmas, starting our own trade freeze 10 days before, that’s how distracting it is,” Burke said at the time. “Clarke MacArthur has been traded 10 times. [Mikhail] Grabovski’s been traded 12 times. [Nikolai] Kulemin has been traded. Luke Schenn has been traded 50 times.
“I think it’s remarkable the players keep their focus.”
Of course, the Leafs didn’t keep their focus — they collapsed badly down the stretch and missed the playoffs — and, just for good measure, Burke traded Schenn for the 51st time at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
If there’s a silver lining for the Leafs, it’s that neither Reimer nor Scrivens have allowed the distraction to affect their play.
Reimer sits 13th in the NHL in save percentage (.920) and Scrivens ranks 18th, at .918.
The pair have also combined to hit the 20-win plateau, a feat only eight NHL teams have accomplished heading into Tuesday night’s action.