James Reimer is ready to battle Jonathan Bernier for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ No. 1 goalie spot.
Reimer, who comes into training camp as the incumbent starter, already has a relationship with the Leafs new goaltender and expects a friendly rivalry to form between the two.
“I’ve talked to (Bernier) a little bit and I know him from the World Championships,” Reimer said Wednesday morning on the Joey Vendetta Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “He’s a good goalie. He’s had great stats and he’s played really well when called upon last year with L.A.
“He’s obviously coming in and wants to be the No. 1 guy but obviously I’m going to do everything I can to stay the No. 1 and be the best for our team. No matter what happens we’re going to be good teammates first and push each other. The most important thing is do what we can for the team.”
In the lockout- shortened season in 2013, Reimer put up the best statistics of his career with a .924 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average in 33 games. He helped the Leafs to their first playoff appearance since 2003-04 and performed admirably in the post-season — even with the Leafs’ meltdown against the Boston Bruins in Game 7.
Still, many were surprised when the Leafs quickly added the highly-touted Bernier in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings earlier this summer but Reimer did not appear upset or bitter with the move.
“A lot of people don’t see that (competitive nature) in me,” he said. “I’m an easy-going person but when the mask goes on, it’s a different person. I think it’s going to be a great competition.”
Reimer was most excited about the team’s additions at forward and thinks Dave Bolland and David Clarkson will have an immediate impact on the Leafs.
“Those are great acquisitions,” Reimer said. “Any time we can add guys from your team that are from the city, I think they play with a lot of passion and always want to play well in front of friends and family. So to add those guys, it’s great for that reason. They’re great players. Clarkson can do so many things for you and can play in all situations. He’ll definitely add a lot to our team. Bolland, being a great (penalty kill) guy with a lot of experience, can put the puck in the net too and I’m excited about playing behind those guys.”