TORONTO– For the final two months of last NHL season, the most talked about and recognizable member of the Toronto Maple Leafs was G James Reimer. His strong play between the pipes proved to be the most consistent of any goalie to play for the Leafs since G Ed Belfour, earning him a three year contract extension.
When the 23 year old from Morweena, Manitoba started to climb the depth chart after last year’s All Star Break, so did his popularity among the fans.
Many started to admire his helmet, especially Don Cherry who wanted an answer as to why he was on the left side of the mask. The answer came from Glenn Healy a couple Saturday nights later on Hockey Night in Canada, however Reimer himself never did explain everything on the helmet.
Fortunately, I have always had an appreciation for goalie equipment and I was able to search out the answer from Reimer back in December when he was still playing with the Toronto Marlies.
When discussing the helmet, this was what he had to say.
“My helmet is kind of titled my childhood. Growing up we only had one channel, or two channels really I guess, CBC and CTV. So the only hockey I got to see was Hockey Night in Canada so me and my family, we all loved gathering around and watching it and watching Coaches Corner. Big fans of Don Cherry and Ron Maclean as a kid so every other intermission other than Coaches corner we’d go play hockey outside or down in the basement. That ties into the other side of the helmet which is two kids playing shinny on an outdoor rink. That kind of represent s me (because) I didn’t start playing organized hockey until I was 12 so I played a lot of outdoor hockey with my brother and my buddies. And then on the back is a saying that says “obstacles are things you see when you lose sight of the goal.” Just a mental line that has helped me ever since I was in junior. There’s also a little yellow heart that says “Ramona’s courage” and that’s for my cousin who died one year and a week ago. That’s for her to represent her battle. And the other picture on the back is just a biblical picture of Jesus pulling Peter out of the water.”
When you look closely, one thing not mentioned by Reimer is the silver “Optimus-Reim” logo now air brushed on the right side. That in fact doesn’t represent anything to do with his childhood but serves as more of a thank you to the fans of Toronto who have embraced him with the same nick name. It was added near the end of the season.
Although he highlighted that the children playing outdoor hockey represented him, there’s no doubt each image has meaning to his life.It also makes me wonder what I would paint on my mask if I titled it “My Childhood.”