Just days after a somewhat surprising re-up in Toronto, James Reimer discussed two big reasons why some figured he’d ask out of Toronto — 1) his relationship with Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle, and 2) being stuck behind Jonathan Bernier.
Reimer’s take? The first wasn’t as bad as it seemed, and the second isn’t accurate.
“I think it was blown a little out of proportion,” Reimer said of his relationship with Carlyle, per Sportsnet’s Fan 590. “Lots of people have asked me about Randy and what I think of him, and in all honesty I’ve always defended him.
“I think maybe we didn’t see eye-to-eye last year, but that has no bearing on his ability to coach or what he can do with the team. Sometimes you just don’t see eye-to-eye and that’s the way things go, but I have a lot of respect for him and I think he’s a great coach.”
The Reimer-Carlyle relationship is complex, but most point to a single event in explaining rift between the two: “Just OK”-gate.
In the midst of the [late-season] collapse, the goaltender and his head coach had conflicting statements following a tough loss to the Red Wings in which Reimer allowed three goals on 34 shots.
“I thought he was okay, you know, just okay,” Carlyle said post-game, to which Reimer replied: “He said just okay? I thought I was good.”
The goaltender’s agent, Ray Petkau added fuel to the fire tweeting: “As is customary in Toronto, when your team plays poor defensively game after game, you blame your goalie,” before clarifying that the tweet was not in response to Carlyle’s comments.
That incident, not surprisingly, kickstarted conversations about Reimer playing elsewhere next season and as the offseason progressed, those talks heated up. Bernier seemed entrenched as the starter, in April, Reimer told TSN asking about a trade request was a “fair question.” In late June, a report from Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos claimed the 26-year-old had indeed asked to be moved.
So, the big question — what changed over the course of a month that convinced Reimer to sign a two-year deal worth $4.6 million?
According to him, the starting job is up for grabs.
Sportsnet: In your mind, are you Jonathan Bernier’s backup or are you coming into camp intent on winning the No. 1 job?
Reimer: Yeah, obviously the latter. I was told there’s a definite opportunity. That’s the mindset I’m coming in with, to really take advantage of the opportunity that’s been given and earn the No. 1 spot.
So, really interesting situation to monitor moving forward. If Toronto was honest in its pitch to Reimer, it could be in for another season loaded with goalie controversy.