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Reimer Looks Ahead To Second Season

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Projected as the Marlies back-up netminder last season, James Reimer enters this year as the Maple Leafs undisputed number one goalie and the key to any successful charge back into the playoffs.

The 23-year-old from Morweena, Man, went 20-10-5 and delivered a 2.60 goals against average and .921 save percentage last season.

Reimer is appearing at Real Sports in Maple Leaf Square, Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. He will participate in a question and answer session and sign autographs. writer Mike Ulmer spoke to Reimer on Monday and asked him about the season that was, the off-season and the season to come.

Mike Ulmer: Tell me about any off-season travel.
James Reimer: After the World Championships my wife and I went to Italy and then spent a week in Hawaii. (Laughs). It’s not a great deal for her. I’m away for six months and she gets six days in Hawaii.

Mike Ulmer: Has this off-season training regimen been the same as the past years?
James Reimer: Pretty well. I’ve been working out with a trainer in Maple Ridge B.C. We do a lot of goalie specific drills to increase flexibility and stamina.

Mike Ulmer: What was the highlight of your rookie season?
James Reimer: It was the opportunity to play. All you ever ask for is the chance but that can be very difficult to get. So many times a goalie will play one game and then he is sent down. A goalie can wait years for an opportunity to prove he can play and that’s the thing I will cherish. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to stay and play.

Mike Ulmer: In an exhibition game against Philadelphia, you stopped eight out of 11 shootout attempts. As a player who was fighting for a spot on the Marlies, how much impact did that one night have on your season?
James Reimer: It had a huge impact. You want to prove your point that you can play and you want to prove the same thing to yourself. That night in London gave me a ton of confidence. It was very important to me.

Mike Ulmer: Who were the offensive stars who impressed you most?
James Reimer: Ovechkin. His skill level was unbelievable. When we played Tampa I was really impressed with Martin St. Louis, his speed and the way he would get open. Joe Thornton in San Jose, his passing ability and the way he used his body to protect the puck amazed me.

Mike Ulmer: In the off-season the Leafs acquired Tim Connolly and Matt Lombardi and two new defencemen in Cody Franson and John-Michael Liles. How do you assess the moves?
James Reimer: I think it’s great. We’re a better team. The guys we brought in have big-time skill and they have the will to win. We should have a very well-balanced attack and a very determined, committed team.

Mike Ulmer: Much has been written about the media demands of playing in Toronto and yet you were often sitting in your locker as if you were waiting for someone to stop by and chat.
James Reimer: The media is part of the game. Their involvement means involvement for the fans so a good relationship is good for everyone. It’s fine,  be it talking to a member of the media or with fans at the Real Sports event. I love the game and I love talking about the game.

Mike Ulmer: Are you an athlete who has embraced Twitter?
James Reimer: I don’t have an account but it’s been fun to hear what’s on there from my friends.

Mike Ulmer: Inevitably, you will be asked about the demands of your sophomore year. Names of goalies who fell off in their sophomore season will be dragged out. You should hear a lot about Jim Carey and Steve Penney even though Penney’s rookie season was 27 years ago and Carey broke in midway in Bill Clinton’s presidency. How do you plan to answer the inevitable questions?
James Reimer: I realize what it took to get here. I don’t think that I have lost that hunger. I’ve gotten better every year and each year I try to work harder than the last. I had the same training routine this year as last. There are going to be up times and down times but each season I want to learn more and do more.
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