After getting pushed behind Jonathan Bernier on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ depth chart this season, James Reimer has struggled mightily.
Things got so bad at one point that some disgruntled fans began heckling his wife April on Twitter. There’s also been several signs of tension between Reimer and head coach Randy Carlyle.
All of this has been read to suggest that Reimer may be playing his final season as a member of the Leafs.
Expectations were initially set very high for Reimer. He burst onto the scene in 2010-2011 and quickly captured the hearts of Leafs fans. Toronto almost made the playoffs that season due to Reimer’s heroics and it was generally assumed that he would carry them into the playoffs the following season.
That was before injuries became a factor in Reimer’s young career. A concussion at the start of the 2011-2012 campaign saw Reimer miss significant time and he never really recovered his form. The shortened 2013 season was a definite improvement, but we all know how that one ended.
Cue the arrival of Bernier.
Now it’s Bernier who finds himself out due to injury and the Leafs have been forced to once again call upon Reimer’s services. Their playoff hopes hang in the balance and anything short of perfection from Reimer will likely see the Leafs hit the golf course in early May.
Even if Reimer grabs this opportunity and runs with it, I don’t know what the future in Toronto holds for him. The Leafs have already invested a fair amount of money and confidence into Bernier. Add to that Reimer’s awkward relationship with Carlyle and it seems Reimer is still destined to leave Toronto this offseason regardless of how he performs over the next four games.
Having said that, he’ll have another chance to capture our hearts and this may actually be his saving grace. Reimer has always been the favourite son in Leafs Nation and that fact alone might force the hand of management to resign him.
Good luck, Reimer! There’s an entire nation behind you tonight!
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