James Reimer was just getting ready to take a pre-game nap when his phone rang.
The New Jersey area code on the call display was ample warning of what was to come.
“I figured that was Lou [Lamoriello] calling, and sure enough it was,” Reimer said during an appearance on Hockey Nation on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “I put two and two together pretty quick.”
The 27-year-old goaltender was traded to the San Jose Sharks Saturday afternoon along with winger Jeremy Morin in exchange for goalie Alex Stalock, winger Ben Smith, and a conditional fourth-round draft pick (2018).
LISTEN: James Reimer on Hockey Nation
Despite a tenure in Toronto that was rocky at times for the on-again off-again starting goaltender, Reimer admits he’ll miss playing in Toronto.
He pinpoints two of his most cherished memories in the blue-and-white: His very first NHL game, and that first trip to the playoffs in 2013.
“The way the city got excited and got fired up,” said Reimer. “That was obviously a highlight in my career, just to be able to push it as far as we could. That was a real good time.
“So many good memories. It was a lot of fun to play there.”
Reimer has been with the Maple Leafs his entire career since being drafted by the club in the fourth round (99th overall) in 2006, and has learned plenty along the way — and he’ll continue that as he heads west to California.
“For me, it’s just always been about working hard and trying to be humble and learning as much as I can from as many people as I can,” Reimer reflected. “Ever since I first started, even with [former Leafs goaltending coach] François Allaire [now with Colorado]. The tips he gave me when I was just coming up when I was young — I think I hadn’t even played any games at this point. Every warmup he told me, ‘Just watch the other goalie.’ Whether it was Ryan Miller or Roberto Luongo, you name it.
“For me, it’s just always that mindset. You’re always trying to find an area in your game … where you can get better.”
Now with the Sharks currently sitting third in the Pacific Division, a return trip to the post-season may not be far off.
“To be able to go to a team here that’s right on the cusp … they’re obviously a real solid team … it’s exciting to have that opportunity to push for it.”
The pending UFA acknowledges that with the nature of his expiring contract, he may not have much time to get too comfortable with his club — though July 1 is the farthest thing from his mind. But it has to be asked: Would he consider signing back with Toronto once he hits the open market?
“Yeah, who knows. It’s so far in the future … now obviously there’s a lot bigger things on my mind,” said Reimer. “Toronto’s a special place. It always has been. They drafted me and put a lot of time and effort and faith in me, so I’m extremely thankful to everyone.
“Going forward, who knows what’s going to transpire,” he continued. “Who knows what Toronto’s going to want, who knows what I’m going to want. At end of the day, you obviously want to make the best decision … for myself and obviously my family. Toronto’s been a great place.
“They’re definitely not off the table, that’s for sure.”