WINNIPEG - The ‘Masked Man of Morweena’ is relishing the return of the NHL to his hometown province.
Toronto Maple Leafs netminder James Reimer threw out the ceremonial pitch at the Winnipeg Goldeyes-Sioux Falls Pheasants match at Shaw Park on Friday, but hockey was still on his mind. Particularly the return of the Jets to Winnipeg.
“I think it’s great. It’s great for the NHL,” said Reimer, who only went to two Jets games before they left for Phoenix. “You could see by how fast the tickets were sold how starved this town is for hockey here.
“So, I think it will be great to have a team here. It will bring a lot more excitement to the game and it will be a great place to come and play.”
Reimer, 23, made his own mark last season. He worked his way up from the ECHL to the NHL, where he eventually became the Leafs starting goalie. He finished with a 20-10-5 record and a 2.60 GAA for a losing team.
Manitobans have been feting his success since his return.
“It’s been great to be back,” Reimer said. “I’m proud to be from Manitoba and I’m proud to come back here. I love the area and it was exciting to be part of the coin toss at the (Winnipeg Blue) Bomber game (Thursday) night.”
And when he returns to Morweena, all 130 residents come to greet him, Reimer said.
“We have a bit of a party,” said Reimer, who was a catcher when he played baseball there. “It’s a great place to be from and a great place to grow up. It’s always a joy to go back there.”
Actually, it’s not just Manitobans who have been thrilled to see Reimer. Pheasants backup catcher Will Richards had his picture taken with Reimer after getting his autograph before the game. Richards is from Mississauga, Ont., and is, of course, a Leafs fan.