James Reimer (ice hockey)
March 15, 1988 |
Morweena, MB, CAN
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Weight||208 lb (94 kg; 14 st 12 lb)|
|NHL team||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|NHL Draft||99th overall, 2006
Toronto Maple Leafs
James Reimer (born March 15, 1988) is a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL). Reimer was selected by the Maple Leafs in the fourth round (99th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He started playing minor hockey in his hometown when he was 12. He played junior hockey with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League (WHL), after being selected in the fifth round of the 2003 WHL Bantam Draft. After turning professional, Reimer played with the South Carolina Stingrays and Reading Royals of the ECHL, as well as the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Reimer was named the most valuable player of the ECHL playoffs, as the Stingrays won the Kelly Cup in 2009. Reimer made his NHL debut with the Maple Leafs during the 2010–11 season and went on to replace Jean-Sébastien Giguère as the Maple Leafs' starting goaltender. He plays for Canada internationally, and first represented his country at the 2011 World Championship. As at 2013, he had the best save percentage in Toronto Maple Leafs history with a then .918.
Reimer started playing goalie when his older brother, Mark, needed practice shooting. A local minor hockey manager heard about his prowess in goal, and recruited him. His parents were unsure if minor hockey was the right fit for their son, so he did not play organized hockey until he was 12. He was first noticed by agent Ray Petkau when he was 13, after playing with a church team at a tournament in Steinbach, Manitoba. As of November 2011, Petkau was still his representative.
Reimer played his last seasons of minor hockey for the Interlake Lightning of the Manitoba "AAA" Midget league. He was the team's rookie of the year and top scholastic player after the 2002–03 season, and the most valuable player after the 2004–05 season.
Reimer was selected by the Red Deer Rebels in the fifth round of the 2003 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft, with a pick that originally belonged to the Spokane Chiefs. The team drafted Reimer largely on the word of a single scout, Carter Sears. After Reimer performed poorly during his first training camp with the club, Rebels head coach Brent Sutter wanted to release him, but Sears was persistent in his support for Reimer. Reimer made the club in his third attempt after having been cut the previous two seasons. His first season in the WHL was a poor one for the Rebels. Reimer played 34 games, recording only 7 wins. Reimer broke his hand late in the season, an injury which cost him a chance to play for Team Canada at the 2006 IIHF World U18 Championships. Reimer was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth round (99th overall) of the 2006 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft. John Ferguson, Jr., the Maple Leafs general manager at the time, remembers Reimer as an unfinished product needing time to develop, being "somewhat raw". At the time of the draft, Reimer was preparing for his high school graduation, and did not attend the event in Vancouver, British Columbia. He said, "I made a decision not to pay a lot of attention because I was reluctant to get my hopes too high." His agent, Ray Petkau, called with the news about being drafted and later brought him his Maple Leafs jersey and hat that draftees receive. Prior to the draft, Reimer had mentioned that he would like to be drafted by the Los Angeles Kings, saying "I'd love to play hockey in all that sunshine."
Reimer attended training camp with the Maple Leafs in 2006 and 2007, but was returned to the Rebels both times. During the 2006–07 WHL season, Reimer played in 60 games with the Rebels, and recording 26 wins, 23 losses and 7 ties. This was the only season in his WHL career that Reimer finished with a winning record. The 2007–08 WHL season was Reimer's final season in the WHL. He suffered a torn ligament in his ankle, and only appeared in 30 games. In March 2008, the Maple Leafs signed Reimer to a three-year contract worth an annual base salary of $555,000. The deal included a $180,000 signing bonus and playing incentives that could increase the total value of the contract to $1.8 million. His base salary was $555,000 — the minimum salary for an NHL player.
After attending the Maple Leafs training camp in September 2008, he was assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League (AHL). After starting the season with the Marlies, Reimer was assigned to the Reading Royals of the ECHL. He was recalled by the Marlies and recorded his first AHL win by a score of 3–2 in a shootout on December 27, 2008 against the Manitoba Moose. In two stints with the Marlies, Reimer had a record of one win and two losses, with a goals against average (GAA) of 3.28 and a .882 save percentage. With the Royals, Reimer had a record of ten wins, seven losses and three ties. At the ECHL trade deadline, Reimer was moved to the South Carolina Stingrays, a team that had gone through eight goaltenders during the season. The deal was facilitated to expose Reimer to post-season experience, as the Royals were out of playoff contention. While with the Stingrays, Reimer helped them win the 2009 Kelly Cup championship. Recording four wins and one shutout over eight games in the post-season, he was named the ECHL Playoffs Most Valuable Player.
After attending the Maple Leafs training camp ahead of the 2009–10 National Hockey League (NHL) season, Reimer was again sent down to the AHL. As part of the Marlies' pre-season, Reimer competed in the Gardiner Cup, held as part of Scotland's 2009 Homecoming celebrations. He stopped 33 shots in the final as the Marlies lost 3–1 to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Back in the AHL, he spent the majority of the 2009–10 season with the Marlies, playing in 26 games and recording 14 wins. He had a GAA of 2.25 and a save percentage of .925. Reimer was called up by the Leafs on an emergency basis on October 13, 2009, when starting goaltender Vesa Toskala was injured. Serving as Joey MacDonald's backup, he did not receive any playing time in his first NHL call-up; he was sent back down to the Marlies on October 25, 2009. Reimer missed significant time with an ankle injury during the 2009–10 season. It was not the same ankle he injured during his final season with the Red Deer Rebels.
At the outset of the 2010–11 NHL season, Reimer again was assigned to the AHL's Marlies. Reimer was not expected to contribute to the Maple Leafs at the NHL level during the 2010–11 season. Expectations for the young netminder were low heading into the season, with head coach Ron Wilson saying "We wanted him to play in the minors and continue to get better, develop and try to stay healthy." He was recalled by the Maple Leafs several months into the season, making his NHL debut on December 20, 2010 in relief of Jonas Gustavsson against the Atlanta Thrashers. He played 14 minutes in the third period, stopping all four shots he faced. Reimer made his first NHL start against the Ottawa Senators on January 1, 2011. The Maple Leafs won the game 5–1, with Reimer recording 32 saves while picking up his first career NHL win. On February 3, 2011, Reimer recorded 27 saves and picked up his first career NHL shutout against the Carolina Hurricanes. A combination of injuries and poor play by Gustavsson and Jean-Sebastien Giguere provided an opportunity for Reimer at the NHL level. His strong play caused the Leafs to carry three goalies on their NHL roster, a fact which did not surprise Giguere, who said "The way he played the last time he was up, you knew he was going to get another chance." Leafs head coach Ron Wilson acknowledged Reimer as the team's starting goalie as they set out on a late-season run for a playoff spot, saying "It’s going to be his ball the rest of the way. As long as we stay in the race. And I think he’s up to it." 
Reimer became a quick fan favourite during his rookie NHL season, earning the nicknames "Optimus Reim" and "The Statue". The former is a reference to the Transformers protagonist Optimus Prime, while the latter resulted from head coach Wilson's attempts to suppress the hype around the rookie goalie only a short time into his NHL career, saying "There's all this [attention] around here, a guy wins a game and we're ready to build a statue for him." Reimer's strong performance was recognized by the league when he was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month for March 2011. Reimer would have become a restricted free agent on July 1, 2011, but he signed a three-year contract worth $5.4 million ($1.8 million salary cap hit) on June 9, 2011.
Reimer began the 2011–12 season as the starter going 4–0–1. He suffered an injury on October 22 in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. During the game Reimer was run into by Brian Gionta, he finished the first period, but did not return after the intermission. The team called the injury whiplash despite rumors that he was suffering from a concussion. Reimer missed 19 games with the injury, and struggled upon his return, yielding some starts to Gustavsson. After recording two back-to-back shutouts on February 1 and February 4, Reimer seemed to have solidified the starting position once again.
Near the end of March 2012, Reimer was starting to play to an acceptable standard again, but an upper-body injury (later revealed to be a neck injury) sidelined him for the remainder of the season from March 29. On April 9, he told the media that he would be available by training camp in September 2012. Due to the NHL lockout, Reimer was afforded more time to heal and attended training camp in January 2013. Reimer held off an early challenge from rookie backup Ben Scrivens to remain Toronto's starting goaltender. On February 11, Reimer suffered a MCL strain, which kept him out of action for a little over two weeks, he won all three of his next starts after returning. Upon returning Reimer backstopped the Maple Leafs to their first playoff berth since 2004 and finishing the regular season with a career best 2.46 GAA and .924 SV% in 34 games.
Prior to the 2013–14 season, the club acquired Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings. At the beginning of the season, Reimer and Bernier were splitting time in the Toronto goal, but as the season progressed, Bernier cemented his status as the Leafs' starting goaltender.
Following the 2013-2014 season, Reimer became a restricted free agent. Dissatisfied with his role as the Leafs' backup, he requested a trade from the Leafs. On July 25, 2014, the Leafs and Reimer avoided a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for the next week by agreeing to terms on a two year contract with an average annual value of $2.3 million.
Reimer's first brush with international hockey came near the end of the 2005–06 season. He was selected to play for Team Canada at the 2006 IIHF World U18 Championships, but was unable to compete due to a broken hand he suffered while playing for Red Deer. After his strong rookie season in the NHL, Reimer received another invitation from Hockey Canada, this time to compete at the 2011 IIHF World Championship. Reimer got his first win in the tournament beating Belarus 4–1.
Reimer plays in the butterfly style of goaltending. Observers have attributed Reimer's success during the 2010–11 season to his ability to maintain his focus and confidence. Reimer tries to focus on the basics of playing goal, feeling that the fundamentals of goaltending are the key to success, saying "It’s not about making the great save, or making a diving save or playing outside yourself. It’s all about pushing, stopping, and being square and just relying on that. Most of the time if you let out a rebound the defenceman is there so it’s more about being solid fundamentally."
Reimer was born in Arborg, Manitoba, to parents Harold and Marlene Reimer. His father owns a business moving homes. He graduated from Morweena Christian High School in his hometown. His favorite hockey team growing up was the Toronto Maple Leafs, and his favourite player was Ed Belfour. Reimer met his wife, April, at a junior hockey game in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Regular season and playoffs
|2005–06||Red Deer Rebels||WHL||34||7||18||3||1709||80||0||2.81||.910||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2006–07||Red Deer Rebels||WHL||60||26||23||7||3339||148||3||2.66||.912||7||3||4||417||27||0||3.88||.871|
|2007–08||Red Deer Rebels||WHL||30||8||15||4||1668||76||1||2.73||.920||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2008–09||South Carolina Stingrays||ECHL||6||6||0||0||363||8||2||1.32||.961||8||4||1||497||18||1||2.17||.929|
|2010–11||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||37||20||10||5||2080||90||3||2.60||.921||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2011–12||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||34||14||14||4||1879||97||3||3.10||.900||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2012–13||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||33||19||8||5||1856||76||4||2.46||.924||7||3||4||498||21||0||2.88||.922|
|2013–14||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||36||12||16||1||1785||98||1||3.29||.911||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
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