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Sunday, November 29, 2015

5 Fascinating Facts About James Reimer: Toronto/San Jose Goalie


James Reimer was born in Arborg, Manitoba, March 15th, 1988 and was raised in the small community of Morweena nearby. Morweena is a Mennonite community that is home to roughly 150 people and was part of the Rural Municipality of Bifrost ( Now the Municipilaty of Bifrost-Riverton) . In Norse mythology Bifrost was the rainbow bridge that connected Midgard (Earth) to Asgard (Home of the gods). 

James begin his minor hockey career relatively late by NHL standards at the age of 12 but had been stopping pucks in the net since his brother Mark wanted someone to shoot on. James laced up the pads on his parents’ (Harold and Marlene’s) backyard rink and thus begin an amazing, if not unconventional, road to the NHL. 

Road To the NHL

James was playing with a church team in a Steinbach, MB tournament when he was noticed by his now agent, Ray Petkau. After playing AAA Midget league, Reimer was selected by the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels in the fifth round where the influence of scout Carter Sears was a large part of his success – supporting him even when coach Brent Sutter wanted to release him. Reimer made the Rebels’ roster in his third attempt and was later drafted 99th overall in the NHL Entry Draft by no less than the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

James had not even attended the draft because of his high school graduation and because he hadn’t wanted to get his “hopes too high” on being drafted. Nevertheless, he was and his agent Ray Petkau called him with the good news.  Reimer attended two training camps with the Leafs in 2006 and 2007 but ultimately ended up back in Red Deer. In 2008 Reimer signed a 3 year entry level deal with the Maple leafs and was soon assigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. He was however, sent down a notch again to the ECHL’s Reading Royals and later the South Carolina Sting Rays. It was a rough time for James but his perseverance was strong. He eventually won the ECHL Playoffs Most Valuable Player award with the championship Sting Rays in 2009. 


Finally on December 20, 2010 James entered an NHL crease for the first time, relieving Jonas Gustavsson in the third period of a game against the Atlanta Thrashers. His first official NHL start would be against the Ottawa Senators on January 1st, 2011 – a game he won with 32 saves. 

As any hockey fan will tell you there is a lot of pressure playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs in what is the largest hockey market on earth. He was a fan favourite in his rookie season and was dubbed “Optimus Reim” by one fan (referencing the Transformers hero) and it stuck. However, Reimer has been through many ups and downs with the fabled Leafs organization. When you are doing well in Toronto things are great and when you aren’t they’re terrible. But Reimer has gained a reputation for calmness in the goal whatever may be happening. 

He was part of a tandem goaltending unit for the Maple Leafs along with Jonathan Bernier until being traded to the San Jose Sharks in February of 2016. Reimer said of his move to San Jose: " Getting this opportunity to come to a team like San Jose that is poised to do some damage, it's exciting. It's an opportunity where you have to try to make the most of it." Reimer has also played for Canada at the World Championships in both 2011 and 2014. 


James met his wife, B.C. native April Dalman, while she was attending  Briercrest Bible College in Saskatchewan. She went with a friend to watch James play in Moosejaw during his Red Deer Rebels stint, met him after the game and things unfolded from there. Until that night she had never been to a hockey game in her life. They married in June of 2010.

April admits its not always easy be married to a NHL goaltender – especially in the GTA. “There does come something with that role of being (James’) wife,” she admitted. “You do have to carry yourself positively and you have to be careful what you say and what you do and realize who you’re talking to. Whatever I do will reflect on …James ..” ( Having said that she has not been shy with her support of James on her Twitter account and has sometimes had to endure some rather horrible heckling on the social media site. 

Although the hope of both James and April is to win a Stanley Cup they’re ultimate priority is higher than that. As April has put it: “It’s more than just James and it’s more than just me and it’s more than just hockey,” …“Yes, hockey’s a big part of our life, but it’s not our first goal in life. Faith come first – then family – then hockey.” 


James Reimer’s Christian faith is evident wherever he goes. Not one to push anything down people’s throats, he still manages to gain the respect of his teammates and share his faith in his own personal way. James refers to becoming a Christian at the tender age of 7 but also having a later re-connection with God at the age of 14 at which point he said he was “born again”.  In regards to a picture of Jesus pulling a doubt-filled Peter out of the sea on his goalie mask, Reimer has said “It’s my story, in a modern way… When Peter lost focus on Jesus, things began to go badly for him, but when he focused on the Lord and was confident in his faith then he had the ability to do anything…” (Manitoba Hockey News) 

James also often references a passage from the book of Philippians: 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

"Things are going to happen and stuff. When you have something like Christ to lean on, it just adds a peace that surpasses all understanding” (The Canadian Press). 

Despite many injuries, an unconventional road to professional hockey and many “rejections”, James has succeeded in his goal of playing in the NHL and he unreservedly attributes his personal tenacity and good fortune to his faith in God. As Reimer seeks to store his treasures in Heaven above all else, perhaps – just maybe – he will  get a Stanley Cup to go along with it. 

Sources & Further Reading:

The Globe & Mail:

Briercrest News

Manitoba Hockey News:                                                                                                                                                                 

"And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 
Matthew 14:28-31

1 comment:

  1. What a great day f story of faith. As a I find myself in similar conversations often. Thankyou for your honesty.May the Lord bless you in Florid a. I follow your progress all the time and catch your games even though Im in the UK.
    Every Blessing
    Robert Clark