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Maple Leafs' offseason made Reimer excited to return

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

TORONTO -- After signing a two-year, $4.6 million contract and receiving a vote of confidence from his coach, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer sounds like a player ready to settle in with a team he wondered if he'd ever play for again after last season.

"Obviously there was some doubts about where I stood or what the direction would be going forward," Reimer said. "Over the course of the summer I really liked what was going on here. I think good things have gone on here. I'm pretty excited."

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Reimer, who was a restricted free agent after last season, didn't know if he would return to the Maple Leafs, or if he would be signed only to be traded. Jonathan Bernier grabbed the job as the No. 1 goalie last season, but Reimer was in net for most of the Maple Leafs' collapse.

With Bernier injured in mid-March, Reimer allowed 18 goals in losing five consecutive starts. He lost eight of his last nine starts as the Maple Leafs lost 12 of their last 14 games to fall out of the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

Reimer finished the season with a 3.29 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Not only that, he did not receive a vote of confidence from coach Randy Carlyle, who once referred to the goalie as being "just OK," a comment that took on a life of its own in Toronto.

On Thursday, Carlyle spoke as if he had Reimer's back. He said he sees Reimer and Bernier as 1A and 1B in the pecking order, with neither as the clear-cut No. 1.

"We're not casting James Reimer to the side," Carlyle said. "We're going to need James Reimer to go in and play and win us hockey games. It's as simple as that."

Reimer said he hasn't spoken to Carlyle about his role yet, but it seems pretty cut and dried now that he's under contract and in training camp.

He wasn't sure if he would be, or would want to be, after last season.

"Obviously there's only 60 spots [for goalies in the NHL] and there's a lot of good goaltenders, but I was excited to come back here," Reimer said. "At the end of the year it could have been doubtful, but as the summer goes on you look at the chance we could have and the team we're going to have. … It's something I was excited about and wanted to jump on board with."

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