As we ready our popcorn and PVRs for the debut of 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic, we count down the top 10 characters on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings we’re most excited to get to know better. No. 10: James Reimer.
He can’t really be this nice in real life, can he?
When the thick double doors close on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ dressing room, surely the ever-humble James Reimer starts dropping F-bombs and filling fellow No. 1 goaltender Jonathan Bernier’s glove with David Clarkson’s hair gel. For no man is this aw-shucks when the limited-access cameras flick off.
Though he’ll do everything in his power to downplay it, the 25-year-old Manitoba native (who never swears!) is one of the most compelling figures on a Leafs team that expects to be back in the postseason.
In the face of very real trade rumours (see: Luongo, Roberto) last season, Reimer – the guy who gives up way too many rebounds and has a weighty glove hand, his critics love to exaggerate – stood on his head and played a key role in ending the team’s then-NHL-long playoff drought.
Against a formidable Boston Bruins team – y’know, the one that made mincemeat of the Pittsburgh Penguins – Reimer posted a .922 GAA save percentage during his first-ever NHL playoff series.
His reward? General manager Dave Nonis went out and showed how much he trusted Reimer by signing the L.A. Kings’ No. 2 man to challenge for Reimer’s job.
Yet Reimer, who grew up in a Mennonite community and met his wife April (remember her?) at a junior game, has been stellar again in 2013-14, upping his trade value to the point where the Leafs are better off not trading him at all. Heading into Tuesday’s game, he is 5-2 with a career-high .942 save percentage.
Reimer’s smile percentage remains a consistent 1.000. Maybe HBO can change that.
Tune in as 24/7 follows the Maple Leafs and Red Wings on the road to the NHL’s Winter Classic, Jan. 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The first episode debuts at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15 on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific.