Giguere: Reimer will get back to NHL

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:18 PM ET

TORONTO - A recurring groin injury to starting goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere and the shaky play of No. 2 Jonas Gustavsson opened the door for Marlies callup James Reimer. Multiple injuries and a suspension to Mike Brown shut it again.

With Giguere healthy and others not, Reimer was the victim of a numbers game and had to be sent back down to the Marlies. But Giguere said the Winnipeg native showed his worth to the Maple Leafs, and is certain to see more NHL action in the future.

“The key for him now is to go back down and keep pushing, keep working hard,” Giguere said after the Leafs’ morning skate on Saturday. “We all agree he’s going to get a second chance, there’s no doubt about that. You just have to be patient. If you look at the beginning of the year, the plan probably was for him to play the full year in the minors, so I think he can be pretty proud of what he has done and use this as motivation and momentum.”

The 22-year-old Reimer put together an impressive 4-2-0 record with a .933 save percentage while with the Leafs. He was in net for four consecutive wins, followed by a 5-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.

A REAL PAIN

“Tough” is how the veteran Giguere described his struggles this season with a wonky groin that has forced him to miss action on several occasions, including a 12-game span that saw him sidelined until Saturday, when he started against Calgary.

“It’s been tough mentally (dealing with the groin issues). Every time, we thought we were doing the right thing (coming back to play). I was cleared by the doctor and the trainers thought I was ready to go, and I personally felt the same way and it just kept coming back,” Giguere said. “Hopefully this is the last time we’ll have to talk about that and from now on we’ll move forward and try to have a good second half of the season.”

Leafs forward Mike Brown said after the loss to the Coyotes that his punishing hit on defenceman Ed Jovanovski was “clean” and that the refs made the right decision by not calling a penalty. Obviously the league felt otherwise and slapped a three-game suspension on him Friday.

“It is what it is,” Brown said of the league’s ruling. “I can’t complain about anything I got. There’s nothing I can do about it now. Obviously, anything is a surprise to me — whatever games I got — but it’s what they called and I can’t change that.”

Brown is the fourth player in the league this season to receive a suspension under Rule 48 for delivering a blindside hit to the head.

“It was an accident, I’m not out to intentionally hurt anyone, especially him,” Brown said. “He’s well-respected and there’s no way I would intentionally go and elbow or hit him with a shoulder to the head.”

It was Brown’s first game back after sitting out more than a month with a broken finger. The scrappy forward is eligible to return Jan. 22 against Washington.

STILL HURTIN’

While the Leafs certainly could use Kris Versteeg back in their lineup, the versatile forward isn’t going to rush his return back from an undisclosed upper body injury incurred on the road against the San Jose Sharks.

“It’s a little sore, so I’m just going to take it day to day and let the treatment take its course,” said Versteeg, who joined in the Leafs’ morning skate on Saturday. “You just talk about it with your trainers and doctors and go over everything, and I went out there again today and it just didn’t feel right for a game.”


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