It's a fun spectacle to watch the media take-down of James Reimer, the only Leafs goalie to get them in the playoffs for almost 9 seasons and anoint the newly acquired Jonathon Bernier as the #1 Goalie.
Darren Dreger, of TSN, the cousin of Leafs GM Dave Nonis seems to be his biggest fan:
Here's Dreger from that same interview on TSN1050:
"I believe James Reimer is a No. 1 goalie but the Leafs' collapse in Game 7 could have been avoiding if Reimer made some big saves … [S]ome rumblings out of Calgary last week that Bernier could be that young guy Canada may take as the third goalie to the Olympics. [T]hat is what some very powerful and knowledgeable hockey people think of Jonathan Bernier. We'll see what happens."
To be fair to Reimer, he did at one point have a 3 goal lead in Game 7, but the entire Leafs team stopped playing the last 15:00 minutes of the 3rd period. Sometimes, even the greatest goaltenders can't get it done for a team that doesn't play. Whether that's on Randy's coaching techniques, and line combinations, or how he decides to utilize the ice is up for debate. I don't blame Game 7 on Reimer, I see it more of an overall team collapse.
The rest of the media has been so-so with being fair to both goalies. But the story will continue to develop as the season drags on:
Traikos not long ago:
It is an awkward situation. But they are trying to make it work. Reimer, who sent Bernier a welcome-to-Toronto text after he was acquired from Los Angeles in July, has already come up with a couple of nicknames for his new teammate.
But for once, there was some sense from Damien Cox of all people:
"First of all, Bernier’s never been able to be a No. 1 guy before, principally because he was behind Jonathan Quick in L.A., but the bottom line is at age 25 he’s yet to be a starter. Leaf fans would do well to remember that when Vesa Toskala was made a starter with the Leaf after being a backup in San Jose, he couldn’t handle it.
Third, Reimer’s pretty darn good. Nobody’s saying he should have won the Vezina Trophy or will or doesn’t have his warts, but to this point he’s been better than Bernier in his career and has shown an ability to overcome obstacles, which matters a great deal when it comes to goalies."
More on this from the NP:
"I’m sure they made the trade because they thought we could have a pretty good battle between me and Reimer," Bernier told NHL.com on Tuesday. "And that’s what I’m looking for, to get a chance to prove what I can do and get some playing time and hopefully fit well on my new team."
Reimer, 25, the incumbent starter, has more experience and a (slightly) better career save-percentage. Bernier, 25, has spent the last three seasons picking up playing time wherever he could behind Jonathan Quick, who led the Kings to a Stanley Cup in 2012.
Reimer is heading into the final year of his contract, which will carry a cap hit of US$1.8-million. Bernier has two seasons remaining on his deal, with an annual cap hit of US$2.9-million. (According to capgeek.com, the combined US$4.7-million places the Leafs right in the middle of the pack in terms of league spending on goaltending tandems.)
This media debacle about the Leafs goaltending duo could be either a huge boon which will create good competition, or will become a huge distraction to one or both of these goaltenders this upcoming season. Both Reimer and Bernier will just play the games, but the media will continue to write the narrative and push the story.
The last time the Leafs had a goaltending controversy it was Felix Potvin vs. Curtis Joseph, and Potvin was shipped out of town. In more recent times, there was the Jaroslav Halak vs. Carey Price ordeal. Halak outplayed Price, but in the end, Price kept his job.
I'd argue that have a good goaltending duo is largely critical to challenge each net-minder to stay motivated and play well. Although it's tough to remember a modern NHL team which had a alternating duo that led them to the holy grail that is the Stanley Cup. Unless you want Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Tomas Vokoun.
This story will continue to be the rise and fall, sink or swim scenario that will continue to write itself during this season. The media, largely from TSN, and other writers will choose who the winner is. But, if I were a betting man, it seems that, if all things being mostly equal, the media will select Bernier as the winner and the Reimer as the loser.
Nothing against Frattin or Scrivens...or the cap, but Dave Nonis...why'd you do this again?