reimergetty

After not seeing ‘eye-to-eye’ with Carlyle, Reimer will compete for No. 1 gig

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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.

From TSN:

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.

Leafs re-sign Reimer — two years, $4.6 million

DETROIT, MI - MARCH 18: James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates back to the net after a time out during the second period of the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on March 18, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have managed to avoid arbitration with James Reimer by signing him to a two-year, $4.6 million contract, per CBC’s Elliotte Friedman.

The question now is if Reimer will stay in Toronto until the completion of that deal. Reimer’s tenure with the Maple Leafs has been something of a mixed bag. He’s been the team’s starter for various stretches over the last four seasons and was a big factor in the team making the playoffs in 2013 with his 2.46 GAA and .924 save percentage.

He’s been inconsistent though and Toronto hedged its bets when it acquired Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 2013. The idea was that Bernier would compete for the starting job against Reimer, but Reimer struggled last season and finished with a 3.29 GAA and .911 save percentage in 36 contests.

With Bernier expected to start the 2014-15 campaign as the team’s number one goaltender, Reimer reportedly requested a trade last month. Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis has since said that “by and large, what we have right now is what we’re going to start with.”

Report: Reimer requests trade from Toronto

James Reimer
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The writing has likely been on the wall for some time now, but James Reimer’s time in Toronto is likely at an end.

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reports Reimer has asked the Toronto Maple Leafs to trade him and he speculates the Leafs and Winnipeg Jets were in discussion during the NHL Draft about making a swap.

Reimer is from Morweena, Manitoba near Winnipeg and would join Ondrej Pavelec as the goaltending duo there. Al Montoya is an unrestricted free agent come July 1 and while Reimer is set to be a restricted free agent on that date, returning home to play would give him a strong chance at unseating Pavelec for the No. 1 job there.

Reimer was unseated as Maple Leafs starter last season by Jonathan Bernier. The season started with the two in competition with each other, but coach Randy Carlyle clearly sided with Bernier as his top guy.

Bernier’s performance dictated he be the man as he had a .922 save percentage in 55 games. Reimer backed him up with a .911 save percentage in 36 games. While that stat is average, it would’ve made for a marked improvement on what Pavelec did with Winnipeg as he put up a .901 mark in 57 games.

Meanwhile, the Leafs have already been spotted courting Martin Brodeur to potentially be Bernier’s new backup/mentor. Reminder: his numbers were also worse than Reimer’s last season (.901 save percentage in 39 games).

Nonis has no ‘certainty’ on Bolland situation, won’t rule out Reimer return

Dave Nonis
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PHILADELPHIA — Dave Bolland wants to stay in Toronto and play for the Maple Leafs. We knew that already.

We also already knew that the Maple Leafs want to keep Bolland, because he’s “the type of player (they) need.”

So why haven’t the two sides come to an agreement on a new contract for the pending unrestricted free agent center?

“It’s not that we’re not speaking to each other,” Leafs general manager Dave Nonis said Thursday afternoon. “It’s at this point we haven’t been able to find common ground for a deal. … There’s a number and term that we believe is fair, and [Bolland and his agent, Anton Thun] have a different number and different term.

“We still have time to get something done. Whether that happens or not — last year, we were in a similar situation with Tyler Bozak and he ended up signing — whether we get to that or not remains to be seen.”

And if it doesn’t happen? Does Nonis expect to have certainty on the Bolland situation by July 1, so he can go to Plan B as soon as the league-wide bidding frenzy begins?

“Your only Plan B is going to be the players you have under contract,” said Nonis. “Because you don’t know who else you can sign. … The only certainty is the players that are our own.”

Nonis also spoke briefly today about goalie James Reimer, who many expect to be traded before the start of next season.

“[A trade] is a possibility,” admitted Nonis. “The other possibility is to come here and try to start here. … I wouldn’t rule out him coming back.”

Related: Bolland, Leafs remain apart in negotiations: agent

Reimer admits he’s ‘really sad’ if his time with Toronto is over

reimergetty
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Depending upon how you view James Reimer’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators probably seemed fitting.

Those who defend him – like, say, his agent – would probably nod their heads wistfully at his stats on the day: 36 saves, one goal allowed and another mark in the “L” column.

As a restricted free agent, the Maple Leafs have a considerable amount of control over the 26-year-old netminder’s future. Even so, Reimer told reporters including TSN’s Jonas Siegel that he couldn’t help but shake the emotional feeling that tonight might represent his final moment in a Maple Leafs uniform.

With some new faces in the organization, there might be an extra drive to remove Reimer … or maybe a chance for the still fairly new netminder to receive a clean slate. If nothing else, Reimer admits that the thought of playing somewhere else crossed his mind on Saturday.

Update: Here is video of the full (emotional) interview: