|Born||March 15, 1988 |
Arborg, Manitoba, Canada
|Height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight||208 lb (94 kg; 14 st 12 lb)|
Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks
|NHL Draft||99th overall, 2006|
Toronto Maple Leafs
Minor Hockey Playing Career
James started playing goalie when his older brother, Mark, needed practice shooting, but had no goalie.
A local minor hockey manager heard about his prowess in goal and recruited him. His parents were unsure if minor hockey was the right fit for their son, so he did not play organized hockey until he was 12 years old.
James was first noticed by agent Ray Petkau when he was 13, after playing with a church team at a tournament in Steinbach, Manitoba. As of November 2011, Petkau was still his representative.
James played his last seasons of minor hockey for the Interlake Lightning of the Manitoba "AAA" Midget league. He was the team's rookie of the year and top scholastic player after the 2002–03 season and the most valuable player after the 2004–05 season.
Junior Hockey Playing Career
James was selected by the Red Deer Rebels in the fifth round of the 2003 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft with a pick that originally belonged to the Spokane Chiefs. The team drafted Reimer largely on the word of a single scout, Carter Sears.
After he performed poorly during his first training camp with the club, Rebels head coach Brent Sutter wanted to release him, but Sears was persistent in his support for James.
James made the club in his third attempt after having been cut the previous two seasons. His first season in the WHL was a poor one for the Rebels. Reimer played 34 games, recording only 7 wins.
James broke his hand late in the season, an injury which cost him a chance to play for Team Canada at the 2006 IIHF World U18 Championships. Reimer was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth round (99th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
John Ferguson, Jr. (the Maple Leafs general manager at the time) remembers James as an unfinished product needing time to develop, being "somewhat raw".
At the time of the draft, James was preparing for his high school graduation, and did not attend the event in Vancouver, British Columbia. He said, "I made a decision not to pay a lot of attention because I was reluctant to get my hopes too high."
James' agent, Ray Petkau, called with the news about being drafted and later brought him his Maple Leafs jersey and hat that draftees receive.
Prior to the draft, James had mentioned that he would like to be drafted by the Los Angeles Kings, saying, "I'd love to play hockey in all that sunshine."
James attended training camp with the Maple Leafs in 2006 and 2007, but was returned to the Rebels both times.
During the 2006–07 WHL season, James played in 60 games with the Rebels, and recording 26 wins, 23 losses and 7 ties. This was the only season in his WHL career that Reimer finished with a winning record.
The 2007–08 WHL season was James' final season in the WHL. He suffered a torn ligament in his ankle, and only appeared in 30 games.
In March of 2008, the Maple Leafs signed James to a three-year contract worth an annual base salary of $555,000.
The deal included a $180,000 signing bonus and playing incentives that could increase the total value of the contract to $1.8 million. His base salary was $555,000 — the minimum salary for an NHL player.
Professional Playing Career
After attending the Maple Leafs training camp in September of 2008, James was assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League (AHL).
After starting the season with the Marlies, he was assigned to the Reading Royals of the ECHL. He was recalled by the Marlies and he recorded his first AHL win by a score of 3–2 in a shootout on December 27, 2008 against the Manitoba Moose.
In two stints with the Marlies, James had a record of one win and two losses, with a goals against average (GAA) of 3.28 and a .882 save percentage. With the Royals, Reimer had a record of ten wins, seven losses and three ties.
At the ECHL trade deadline, James was moved to the South Carolina Stingrays, a team that had gone through eight goaltenders during the season. The deal was facilitated to expose him to post-season experience as the Royals were out of playoff contention.
While with the Stingrays, James helped them win the 2009 Kelly Cup championship. Recording four wins and one shutout over eight games in the post-season, he was named the ECHL Playoffs Most Valuable Player.
After attending the Maple Leafs training camp ahead of the 2009-10 NHL season, James was again sent down to the AHL. As part of the Marlies' pre-season, he competed in the Gardiner Cup, held as part of Scotland's 2009 Homecoming celebrations. He stopped 33 shots in the final as the Marlies lost 3–1 to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Back in the AHL, James spent the majority of the 2009–10 season with the Marlies, playing in 26 games and recording 14 wins. He had a GAA of 2.25 and a save percentage of .925. Reimer was called up by the Leafs on an emergency basis on October 13, 2009, when starting goaltender Vesa Toskala was injured.
Serving as Joey MacDonald's backup, he did not receive any playing time in his first NHL call-up; he was sent back down to the Marlies on October 25, 2009.
James missed significant time with an ankle injury during the 2009–10 season. It was not the same ankle he injured during his final season with the Red Deer Rebels.
At the outset of the 2010–11 NHL season, James was again assigned to the AHL's Marlies. He was not expected to contribute to the Maple Leafs at the NHL level during the 2010–11 season.
Expectations for James were low heading into the season with head coach Ron Wilson saying, "We wanted him to play in the minors and continue to get better, develop and try to stay healthy."
He was recalled by the Maple Leafs several months into the season, making his NHL debut on December 20, 2010 in relief of Jonas Gustavsson against the Atlanta Thrashers. He played 14 minutes in the third period, stopping all four shots he faced.
James made his first NHL start against the Ottawa Senators on January 1, 2011. The Maple Leafs won the game 5–1, with Reimer recording 32 saves while picking up his first career NHL win.
On February 3, 2011, James recorded 27 saves and picked up his first career NHL shutout against the Carolina Hurricanes. A combination of injuries and poor play by Gustavsson and Jean-Sebastien Giguere provided an opportunity for Reimer at the NHL level.
James' strong play caused the Leafs to carry three goalies on their NHL roster, a fact which did not surprise Giguere, who said, "The way he played the last time he was up, you knew he was going to get another chance."
The Leafs head coach Ron Wilson acknowledged him as the team's starting goalie as they set out on a late-season run for a playoff spot, saying, "It’s going to be his ball the rest of the way. As long as we stay in the race. And I think he’s up to it."
James became a quick fan favourite during his rookie NHL season, earning the nicknames "Optimus Reim" and "The Statue".
The former is a reference to the Transformers protagonist Optimus Prime while the latter resulted from head coach Wilson's attempts to suppress the hype around the rookie goalie only a short time into his NHL career, saying, "There's all this [attention] around here, a guy wins a game and we're ready to build a statue for him."
James' strong performance was recognized by the league when he was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month for March 2011.
James would have become a restricted free agent on July 1, 2011, but he signed a three-year contract worth $5.4 million ($1.8 million salary cap hit) on June 9, 2011.
James began the 2011–12 season as the starter going 4–0–1. He suffered an injury on October 22nd in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. During the game Reimer was run into by Brian Gionta, he finished the first period, but did not return after the intermission.
The team called the injury whiplash despite rumors that James was suffering from a concussion. Reimer missed 19 games with the injury and struggled upon his return, yielding some starts to Gustavsson.
After recording two back-to-back shutouts on February 1 and February 4, James seemed to have solidified the starting position once again.
Near the end of March of 2012, James was starting to play to an acceptable standard again, but an upper-body injury (later revealed to be a neck injury) sidelined him for the remainder of the season from March 29. On April 9, 2012, he told the media that he would be available by training camp in September of 2012.
Due to the NHL lockout, James was afforded more time to heal and attended training camp in January 2013. He held off an early challenge from rookie backup Ben Scrivens to remain Toronto's starting goaltender.
On February 11, 2013, James suffered a MCL strain, which kept him out of action for a little over two weeks, he won all three of his next starts after returning. Upon returning, he backstopped the Maple Leafs to their first playoff berth since 2004 and finishing the regular season with a career best 2.46 GAA and .924 SV% in 34 games.
Prior to the 2013–14 season, the club acquired Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings. At the beginning of the season, James and Bernier were splitting time in the Toronto goal, but as the season progressed, Bernier cemented his status as the Leafs' starting goaltender.
Following the 2013-2014 season, James became a restricted free agent. Dissatisfied with his role as the Leafs' backup, he requested a trade from the Leafs.
On July 25, 2014, the Leafs and James avoided a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for the next week by agreeing to terms on a two year contract with an average annual value of $2.3 million.
James began the 2015-16 season as Bernier's backup, a role he had held since the team acquired the latter. However, Bernier was injured early in the season and James was given starting duties. He took off with the job, going 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .952 save percentage to be named the 3rd star for the week of November 9–15, 2015.
He would hold the position as Maple Leafs' starting goaltender for the rest of his tenure, earning praise for his play on a Toronto team that struggled throughout the year.
As the February 29th trade deadline approached, James' future with the rebuilding Maple Leafs became uncertain.
On February 27, 2016, two days before the deadline, he was traded to the San Jose Sharks, alongside Jeremy Morin in exchange for Alex Stalock, Ben Smith and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2018 draft.
Regular season and playoffs
|2005–06||Red Deer Rebels||WHL||34||7||18||3||1709||80||0||2.81||.910||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2006–07||Red Deer Rebels||WHL||60||26||23||7||3339||148||3||2.66||.912||7||3||4||417||27||0||3.88||.871|
|2007–08||Red Deer Rebels||WHL||30||8||15||4||1668||76||1||2.73||.920||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2008–09||South Carolina Stingrays||ECHL||6||6||0||0||363||8||2||1.32||.961||8||4||1||497||18||1||2.17||.929|
|2010–11||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||37||20||10||5||2080||90||3||2.60||.921||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2011–12||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||34||14||14||4||1879||97||3||3.10||.900||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2012–13||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||33||19||8||5||1856||76||4||2.46||.924||7||3||4||498||21||0||2.88||.922|
|2013–14||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||36||12||16||1||1785||98||1||3.29||.911||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2014–15||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||35||9||16||1||1767||93||0||3.16||.907||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2015–16||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||32||11||12||7||1810||75||0||2.49||.918||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2015–16||San Jose Sharks||NHL||8||6||2||0||481||13||3||1.62||.938||1||0||0||0||1||0||2.06||.857|
James' first brush with international hockey came near the end of the 2005–06 season.
He was selected to play for Team Canada at the 2006 IIHF World U18 Championships, but was unable to compete due to a broken hand he suffered while playing for Red Deer.
After his strong rookie season in the NHL, James received another invitation from Hockey Canada, this time to compete at the 2011 IIHF World Championship. Reimer got his first win in the tournament beating Belarus 4–1.
James plays in the butterfly style of goaltending.
Observers have attributed his success during the 2010–11 season to his ability to maintain his focus and confidence.
James tries to focus on the basics of playing goal, feeling that the fundamentals of goaltending are the key to success, saying, "It’s not about making the great save, or making a diving save or playing outside yourself. It’s all about pushing, stopping, and being square and just relying on that. Most of the time if you let out a rebound the defenceman is there so it’s more about being solid fundamentally."
James was born in Arborg, Manitoba, to parents Harold and Marlene Reimer. His father owns a business moving homes.
He graduated from Morweena Christian High School in his hometown.
His favorite hockey team growing up was the Toronto Maple Leafs and his favorite player was Ed Belfour.
James met his wife, April, at a junior hockey game in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.