James Reimer

Leafs’ Reimer channels Burke, calls trade deadline ‘a huge distraction’


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.

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.