TORONTO - James Reimer didn’t leave any doubt as to the impact that Francois Allaire had on his development as an NHL goaltender.
“Huge,” Reimer said on Monday. “There were so many parts of my game where there were kind of grey areas.
“With him, everything was black and white, so every situation that came up, he knew what to do. In the NHL game, everything happens so fast, so you need to know, ‘If this happens, do this, if that happens, do that.’”
Reimer took issue with those who have argued that Allaire’s blocking/butterfly style is out of date in today’s NHL, where pucks come at the net in a blink of an eye.
“I have always been more of a butterfly, use-my-size-to-my-advantage kind of guy, which is exactly his style,” Reimer said. “We’re all in the goalies’ union, but I think that the blocking/butterfly goalies look down on the hybrid ones and the hybrid ones look down on the butterfly goalies.”
Reimer said Allaire’s teachings gave him confidence.
“(His style) fit perfectly into my natural game,” Reimer said. “That’s why it was so good for me. Could I adapt a little bit to a different style? Maybe. But the butterfly/blocking style was definitely more suited to me and that’s what I felt more comfortable playing.”
Allaire and Reimer were linked by one curious incident last February. After the Leafs were loathe to call Reimer’s injury a concussion after he was run over by the Montreal Canadiens’ Brian Gionta during a game in October — instead using “concussion-like symptoms” — Allaire openly referred to it as a concussion.
And whether Leafs assistant coach Scott Gordon, a former minor-league goalie, had differing views than Allaire when it came to the position, is not clear. Allaire, in an interview with the National Post on Monday, hinted at there being too many influences when it came to the goaltending.
Little of that mattered to Reimer.
“I hope I can give him a call or text sometime and let him know how much I appreciate him,” Reimer said.