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.
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.
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.
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 ..” (Briercrest.ca/bcast/news). 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 also often references a passage from the book of Philippians:
"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.
The Globe & Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/leafs-beat/james-reimer-has-faith-in-his-game/article613089/
Briercrest News: http://www.briercrest.ca/bcast/news/article.aspx?id=1367