Cherry: Leafs need clear-cut No. 1 goalie

Bernier or Reimer? Don Cherry shares his thoughts on the Leafs goaltending situation.

The one and only Don Cherry joined The Jeff Blair Show on Thursday morning to promote his new book “Straight Up & Personal: The World According To Grapes,” and to discuss the Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltending situation.

James Reimer’s hot hand has earned him starts in back-to-back games, but Cherry still believes Jonathan Bernier will be the guy in Toronto.

LISTEN: Cherry on The Jeff Blair Show

Naturally, Cherry leaned on his own coaching experience in Boston for reasoning.

“In Boston – I’m probably the one guy that knows in town what’s going on – I had two dynamite goaltenders,” Cherry said. “I had Gerry Cheevers, Hall of Famer Gerry Cheevers and I had a guy named Gilles Gilbert who set a record, won 17 straight victories and I didn’t even know about it. But you have to be very careful. You have to make a guy, as I think, No. 1. And the other guy is going to be unhappy. So one of them is going to be unhappy. And it seems to me, as I watch, Bernier is the guy they want, although to me I love Reimer.”

While riding the hot hand is usually the right move, Cherry insinuated that it can put the coaching staff in a difficult position.

“And Randy Carlyle, you look the other night, they had 50 shots on them and they win the game. The Leafs are never going to be anywhere unless every star is their goaltender, that’s the way it works. And I think that Reimer deserved to be in there after 45 shots, he deserved it, he was the hot hand, going with the hot hand and he had to go with him. You have to be careful you don’t lose Reimer because he’s a young kid, he thinks he’s No. 1. It’s a tough situation when you have it like that.”

Despite a great start to the 2014-15 season for Reimer, Cherry believes the Leafs will use Bernier as the long-term solution.

“To me personally I think Bernier is their guy, it seems that way. And Reimer, I like Reimer, that’s the guy I like. He put them in the playoffs and I think he’s a great kid. Let’s face it, last year I don’t think he got the fair shot last year, he’s getting it now. I like Reimer but Bernier is going to be it.”

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Although both Bernier and Reimer have limited NHL playoff experience, the latter has seen more post-season action. For Cherry, having a clear-cut No. 1 going into the playoffs is key.

“You have to have a No. 1 guy. You can’t go into the playoffs, well, who’s in, you can never do that. If you go into the playoffs wondering who you’re going to put in, it’s like L.A., they knew Quick never mind anybody else. You’re never going to win the Stanley Cup unless you have a No. 1 guy going in.”

Perhaps the Leafs will continue to roll the hot hand until the playoffs are in sight.

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