The Maple Leafs won’t take the muzzle off of James Reimer, but agent Ray Petkau spoke Thursday night of a positive outcome to this three-week head injury saga.
Petkau said the Toronto goaltender will be returning to the ice soon and has not experienced headaches in several days after being forced to stop on-ice workouts a week ago.
“We are 100% confident the Leafs are handling this situation well and that includes James, his family and all involved,” Petkau told TSN.
The Leafs were taken aback a day earlier when his mother Marlene went public in a Toronto newspaper about her concerns with the vague medical reports the Leafs had issued. Since he was heavily jolted in the head by Brian Gionta in Montreal on Oct. 22, the club said he was suffering from whiplash-like effects, then changed that to concussion-like symptoms and finally to the ultra-secretive upper-body injury.
It’s true that there are similar symptoms to whiplash and concussion that could have made this hard to diagnose, but the Leafs have been very tight-lipped and not allowed Reimer to speak, thus deepening the mystery.
Marlene’s assertion that James had suffered “several” concussions in the past, the worst as a 16-year-old with the Red Deer Rebels, was also alarming to the fan base, compounding doubts the Leafs can stay in the playoff race if Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens can’t hold the fort long-term.
General manager Brian Burke, who last year was caught in the middle when Tomas Kaberle’s father popped off about Ron Wilson’s coaching style, did not want to comment on Reimer on Thursday, except to say Reimer’s concussion in junior “is not news to us” and was on the table when the Leafs and Petkau signed a three-year, $5.4 million US deal in June.
Petkau told TSN that reports of Reimer having multiple concussions are “exaggerated” and maintained there is no concussion diagnosis, despite the warning signs.
“His baseline test was great, James passed it with flying colours,” Petkau said.
Burke directed any further Reimer queries to Wilson, who was in St. Louis with the team.
Wilson said earlier Thursday that Reimer was “status quo’, a week after it was determined he should stop going on the ice to see if that might clear his headaches. Reimer has been around the MasterCard Centre doing light workouts and at the ACC on game nights.
Wilson said he didn’t approve of a parent being asked to comment in the media, but many player relatives have close relationships with reporters and in Reimer’s case, there has been so much conflicting information about this injury.
As for the current goaltending picture, the next week leading to a four-game road trip should be interesting. It’s believed Burke is not looking to bring in another goaltender, but if Gustavsson in particular can’t put some wins together, the GM might have no choice except to go shopping.