April 1, 2011
Reimer nets rookie of the month honours
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
OTTAWA — When the last Leafs to win the NHL’s rookie of the month award were named Johnson, Sullivan and Potvin, you know it’s been awhile since Toronto produced a freshman of note, let alone their own draft pick.
With much less fanfare than many other Toronto rookies received in recent years, James Reimer copped the league honours for March after he started 14 of 15 games and won nine to keep his team’s playoff flame lit into April.
Reimer, who has a .922 save percentage entering Saturday’s game in Ottawa, seventh in the league, beat Vezina calibre goalies Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller twice in March.
Reimer is the first young Leaf to be honoured since forwards Steve Sullivan and Mike Johnson were in 1997 and the first goalie since Felix Potvin in February 1993.
The award came a day after he beat league save percentage leader Thomas in a Boston shootout and passed teammate Jean-Sebastien Giguere with his 33rd appearance of the year. He played his first game on Jan. 1, a 5-1 win in Ottawa.
“I thought I would just get a couple of games, now looking back, I’m 30-plus,” Reimer said Friday.
“It’s been a crazy, wild ride, but a lot of fun. I still get treated like a rookie, but in terms of feeling like a rookie, with every game, I feel comfortable in different situations and less things surprise you.”
But Reimer refused to take the kudos for leading the club’s post all-star break surge.
“I think whenever a goalie gets an accolade like that it’s also indicative of how the team is playing,” Reimer said. “A lot of guys in the room really won that one (in Boston). The guys were blocking shots, doing what it took to win, especially in the last minute.
“It’s crazy enough for a guy to be a goalie, but when a guy is only wearing shin pads and gets in front of a (Zdeno) Chara slapshot, it takes something inside. And those guys have been working hard.”
Coach Ron Wilson said the award was “well deserved.”
“He surprised me a bit at the beginning, but not any more. He lets in a bad goal, I expect him to bounce back.”