The Toronto Maple Leafs have been actively trying to add a goaltender for quite some time now. On Sunday, they finally did so by acquiring 24-year-old Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings.
Bernier has the potential to become a great number one goaltender, so it’s not hard to see why any team would want him. At the same time, incumbent starter James Reimer, 25, is coming off of a strong season and the easy conclusion to draw from this move is that they still didn’t feel comfortable enough in him to allow the old status quo to be maintained.
“It makes you feel a bit doubted as a goalie,” Reimer admitted to the Toronto Sun.
When asked who he was being doubted by, Reimer added, “Is it by the coaches? Is it by the GM? Is it by the media? You could drive yourself crazy asking yourself things like that.
“You just have to focus on what you can control and believe in yourself.”
Reimer said that he was surprised by the trade. He knew for a while that Toronto was looking to add a veteran, but to bring in someone roughly his age?
“Well, obviously they have their reasons,” he said.
The Maple Leafs likely wanted to hedge their bets rather than go all-in on Reimer, but this trade doesn’t necessarily mean Bernier will end up being the long-term starter in Toronto. As highly regarded as Bernier is, Reimer can’t be dismissed. He owns two of the top three single-season save percentages in Maple Leafs’ history.
“When I look back on it, there were times I could have played better,” Reimer said. “But I really feel I gave the guys a chance.
“Overall, I felt I played well this past season. I feel like I’ve established myself as a No. 1 goalie in this league.”
At the same time, he thinks the competition will make him a better goaltender.
Sometimes getting two talented goaltenders to compete for the top job ends up creating a controversy that can become a distraction, but when this kind of situation works, the team is richly rewarded for it.