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Saturday April 9, 2011 6:28 am

Toronto Maple Leafs’ quest for a number one goalie




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL

James ReimerNow that the Toronto Maple Leafs mercifully have been officially taken themselves out of playoff contention, the members of Leafs Nation have begun asking who they will turn to in goal for the 2011-12 season. After beginning the season with veteran J.S. Giguere and supposed-goalie-of-the-future Jonas Gustavsson, the Leafs found themselves playing behind most teams thanks to miserable netminding. With continued injuries to Giguere’s groin and Gustavsson’s heart, the Leafs looked way down the depth chart and brought up James Reimer.

Reimer took to the NHL in a way nobody expected, stymieing opponents on a nightly basis on his way to a 20-9-5 record when he wasn’t expected to play more than a handful of games. His .922 save percentage and 2.55 goals against average dwarf those of Giguere and Gustavsson. Reimer was also named NHL Rookie of the Month for March. But has what Reimer accomplished enough to warrant his initiation as Toronto’s new number one, or does he still have something to prove before next season begins?

Unless something significant changes in Leafland, Gustavsson won’t even be in the equation to be on the Maple Leafs’ active roster next October, but what’s more important at this point: the grizzled, aging veteran or the mostly untested kid? Some believe the job should go to the vet, who has put in the blood, sweat and tears over the years and earned the rights to be the number one while others have fallen in love with that the kid has done in his three months in the NHL.

Frankly, why service time ever trumps talent is silly. It will take a very forward-thinking management team to say (at least at this point) that Reimer is the number one ahead of Giguere going into next season. Unfortunately, Toronto doesn’t have that in GM Brian Burke or head coach Ron Wilson. Despite the number of games Reimer has started, even since Giguere’s return, they’ve been hesitant to officially label him as the number one Maple Leafs goalie, and sadly, that lack of a defined starter will likely continue through the summer.

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Comments:

Of course Burke has said that. It would be ridiculous for him to not have said it. Likewise, Giguere also has “the chance” to be number one, and so does Gustavsson, and any other goalie the Leafs bring in. The problem is that Reimer is NOT the anointed front-runner, despite clearly out-performing all others by far. At this point in the Leafs’ rebuild, the number one goalie position should be Reimers’ to lose, not win.


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