30 Thoughts: Leafs' Reimer should follow Cammalleri's lead | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in Canada 30 Thoughts: Leafs' Reimer should follow Cammalleri's lead

Posted: Monday, March 24, 2014 | 04:07 PM

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James Reimer doesn't seem happy in Toronto, but he'll need to improve his performance in order to attract interest from other teams. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images) James Reimer doesn't seem happy in Toronto, but he'll need to improve his performance in order to attract interest from other teams. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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James Reimer is terribly disappointed by the Maple Leafs' handling of him, feeling he's not respected and/or trusted. But he's got to think like Calgary's Mike Cammalleri and make himself more attractive to other teams.
James Reimer needs a cup of what Mike Cammalleri is drinking.

You can imagine what went through Cammalleri's mind after the trade deadline. He's a scorer, he thinks a contender can use him. Goals are hard to get in the playoffs; everyone clamps down.

He doesn't go anywhere.

You can argue the market was clogged because Matt Moulson and Thomas Vanek stayed put until the last seconds. You can argue Calgary wanted too much. You can argue the player didn't do enough beforehand.

What you can't argue is how Cammalleri reacted. He is in full "up yours" mode. One scoreless game since the deadline, nine goals and 15 points overall. It's not just about the next contract. He wants every GM who gets kayoed from the playoffs because his team can't score to think, "I could've had that guy."

Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. But, if focused properly, it is also one of the Seven Greatest Motivators. Cammalleri is doing it right.

Reimer must follow his lead.

Reimer is terribly disappointed by the Maple Leafs' handling of him, feeling he's not respected and/or trusted. Whether he is or isn't is no longer relevant. He can't control that. What he does control is his play.

He was spectacular in relief March 13 in Los Angeles, ignoring an accidental knee to the head/neck that could have forced him out, making 31 saves after Jonathan Bernier pulled up lame. After that game, his save percentage was .915 -- above the league average (.913). In five starts since, he's at .871. (We'll get to Toronto's defensive issues in a minute.)

The three worst games came after Randy Carlyle said Reimer was "just OK" against Detroit.

If you saw Reimer being asked about it minutes later, you could see how upset he was. As your husband/wife/life-partner always tells you, "The eyes don't lie." But he can't use that as an excuse for what's happened. It's not about his next contract (he's a restricted free agent), it's about showing someone else that he is trustworthy and deserves No. 1 consideration.

Reimer will get another chance this season. At that point, he's got to think like Cammalleri. He wants to go somewhere else next season. He's got to make other teams think, "That's a guy I want... Because he's going to be determined to make Toronto look bad."

30 Thoughts

1. The angry tweets directed at Reimer's wife, April, after Saturday's loss to Montreal are why we will reach a point where active athletes no longer participate on social media. Some people are too stupid to control themselves. As usual, they will ruin it for those who can.

2. Carlyle is taking heat as his team hits the iceberg, but last Wednesday's 5-3 loss to Tampa proved the players must take greater responsibility for their own defensive mindset. There's no coach in the world who doesn't prepare his team for Steven Stamkos. The Lightning's franchise player scored three times, without being bothered in the process. Toronto is fun to watch, but that game hammered home the point that this style isn't going to work long-term. Prediction: at least one of the more offensive-minded players goes somewhere else this summer for a defensively stout replacement.

3. Carlyle made changes after the Olympic break, asking the third forward to stay higher in the offensive zone on the forecheck. He finally decided not to bother with a fourth line if he wasn't going to use it. Until Paul Ranger was injured, Toronto tried 11 forwards and seven defencemen, a better arrangement for this roster. Carlyle allowed Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly to play together more often, choosing to live with the mistakes.

4. Here's the toughest challenge for Craig MacTavish, Dallas Eakins and Edmonton: to them, the Oilers are in the early-to-middle stages of a rebuild, a job that is undoubtedly more difficult than they realized. But, to the fans, this process predates their arrivals (or, in MacTavish's case, his return). That's very hard, because you want to preach patience, but your paying customers think they've already shown enough. You can't rush it; you must stick to your plan no matter how loud the complaints.

5. One of the most painful things for MacTavish, Kevin Lowe and the fanbase has to be how Calgary -- with less star power -- is going to beat them in the standings, almost strictly on effort. The question must be, "How do we duplicate that?" The second thing you have to look at is Colorado. On paper, how much better is that defence than Edmonton's? But they are one of the NHL's best teams.

6. Eakins and Taylor Hall deserve credit for not allowing their bench argument during Edmonton's 8-1 loss to Calgary to become an explosion. Hall's dousing of Eakins clearly was an accident, although the coach couldn't know it at the time because he was watching the play. Hall didn't yell back, critical in that moment. Can you imagine the scene if he did? After the game, both refused to put more gasoline on an already raging fire.

7. The QMJHL is trying everything it can to convince Jack Eichel its league is the best place for an elite talent to prepare for the NHL. Eichel -- who will likely be one of the the top picks in the 2015 draft with Connor McDavid -- is scheduled to attend Boston University in the fall. His Canadian rights are held by Saint John, which, understandably, would love to have him.

8. It sounds like the NCAA is confident Eichel will stay in the US, but it will be made clear to him -- if it hasn't already -- that if he does not want to go to that particular organization, he will be traded to any other team in the Quebec League he desires. One possibility is the Remparts, who own the rights to another member of the Under-17 team, defenceman Noah Hanifin, a friend of Eichel's. (Hanifin's American choice is Boston College.) This is a big deal, especially since the QMJHL has had trouble recruiting kids from Massachusetts, which is its territory for Canadian rights. The lure of the local schools and playing in the Beanpot tournament is a powerful one for these boys. A commitment from Eichel would be a game-changer.

9. Two players who are going to wait until after the season to worry about their next contracts: Montreal's P.K. Subban (restricted) and Ryan Miller of St. Louis (unrestricted). Both Doug Armstrong and Marc Bergevin are unafraid of negotiating during the season, but the two players feel it is better to concentrate on games. One thing to remember in Miller's case, though, is Alex Steen initially said he'd wait, then changed his mind and an extension quickly got done.

10. One of Subban's greatest skills is how he can keep his head up while unleashing his great shot. That allowed him to find David Desharnais for the tying goal with less than one second remaining in regulation of Montreal's wild comeback against Ottawa on March 15. "When the puck went in the corner, there were three seconds left, so I knew we weren't going to have much time," he said last Saturday. "Everybody just dove in front of the net, so I was just like, 'If I shoot it right now and I miss, nobody's going to say it's a bad play.' But I said, 'Maybe if I make a pass to the side of the net, maybe we have a chance to score a goal.' And (Desharnais) was actually waving at me to shoot it. He was going like this -- just shoot -- and I still passed it to him anyway. And to me that was the skill play... I just tried to get it to him and it worked out." Subban pointed out that when Andrei Markov passed the puck to him, he had to reach because he was checking the clock.

11. At the Olympics, we talked about Subban's ability to lift his head and shoot. He said he saw Nicklas Lidstrom do it and tries to emulate that. If you really think about it, that's probably the play Lidstrom tries to make, too. "I just try to use my teammates," Subban said. "It's not always about the big bomb coming from the point. When I have an opportunity to shoot it, I know they want me to shoot it."

12. Listening to this, Peter Budaj came in with great comedic timing: "That's the longest answer I've ever heard. In my life."

13. For all the complaints Montreal fans have about Michel Therrien, the Canadiens are headed to their second straight playoffs after finishing last in the east. Next year is the final season of his current contract. Will Bergevin choose to extend it rather than create uncertainty and debate?

14. One exec noticed the Blackhawks had a very different approach in their 4-0 win over St. Louis, Chicago's first victory against them. "The Blues like to bully you," he said. "Chicago came back hard right away." If you look back at some of the earlier games between these two teams, it took the defending champs awhile to become engaged. Not this time. You have to stand up to St. Louis right away. Feeling they can physically abuse you really feeds them.

15. Last week, there was a note about how the Blackhawks looked a bit bored. This win reminded me of a story from a few years ago: a coach of a very good team was asked about a "blah" stretch his group went through. He grabbed the next month's schedule and pointed to four games -- two each against big conference rivals. "No matter what happens with the other games," he said, "I bet we're going to win these four." He was right, a total sweep. These phases happen.

16. Checked in with a couple of teams who had doubts about Teuvo Teravainen prior to the 2012 draft, where he fell to 18th. If anything, it proves what a crapshoot picking 18-year-olds is, because he's gained fans since then. Other teams, though, understand why the Blackhawks are trying to temper expectations. "He's got the skill," said one exec, "but hasn't yet filled out." He's listed at 169 pounds. Before Chicago fans start yelling, "Patrick Kane! Patrick Kane!" understand that Kane was used to playing on North American ice against North American players. Teravainen will need to get used to it.

17. It's been lost amidst the Teravainen hype, but the Blackhawks won a spirited skirmish for St. Lawrence forward Matt Carey. They really put the press on him, with other teams noting GM Stan Bowman's presence at recent games. Getting into a game will burn one season of his two-year deal.

18. What will help both players adjust is Chicago's practice tempo. It's the same thing you hear about Detroit -- at a high pace. Mike Kostka (now in Tampa) was saying how, as a defenceman there, you get the puck in practice and the forwards immediately are yelling for it. "And it better be on the tape," he laughed. You can only get better working with great players.

19. Matt's older brother Greg signed with Phoenix. He can really shoot the puck. The question's always been about skating, but if he improves, the Coyotes have someone who can help their offence.

20. While several NHL teams wait for Lowell's season to end as they chase defenceman Christian Folin, there's a couple other names to keep an eye on. San Jose has signed Bowling Green captain Ryan Carpenter, who was also looking at Boston and the Islanders. Denver (also in the NCAA Tournament) has a blue-liner named David Makowski, but teams wonder if the fact his former coach, George Gwozdecky, is now in Tampa gives the Lightning an edge. And Edmonton is apparently looking hard at a defenceman I can't pin down -- yet.

21. I always believed I had a better chance of dating Amy Adams than seeing Jim Rutherford trade Eric Staal. The best way to look at this is to wait and see how everything ends up in Carolina after the season. No doubt Staal is frustrated with missing the playoffs, but, unless either he or the team decides divorce is essential, they have a relationship worth preserving.

22. Interesting experiment: Staal is now playing left wing beside brother Jordan and Alex Semin. That's where he lined up when winning gold with Team Canada in 2010. Staal's got three points in three games. Is this his future?

23. It is extremely likely the Hurricanes are going to try and minimize their current contract responsibilities. The two names who stick out are Cam Ward (who has no-trade protection) and Jeff Skinner (who does not). If you ask other teams about Ward, they say they've been told he's healthy. But, he doesn't look like the confident 2006 Conn Smythe winner. Carolina's shown willingness to eat salary if necessary, so if Ward finishes strong, can that close a deal?

24. The other question: Can Anton Khudobin, who should have been arrested for grand larceny last week in Columbus, handle a number one workload? He's 28 and this is the first time he's played more than 14 NHL games in a season.

25. Skinner is intriguing. Last summer, Carolina dipped its toes in the market. It doesn't sound like they were incredibly serious; wanted to test his value. It's different now. You have to give up to get. If they trade him, my guess is we look at the deal and say, "OK, I understand."

26. The Hurricanes announced a six-year, $29-million US extension for Justin Faulk on Monday that starts at $2.5 million annually and rises to $6 million in covering the two seasons after he could have become an unrestricted free agent. They reached out to agent Brian Bartlett just before the Olympics but really worked on it last week. It's smart business. Faulk (and Bartlett) give Carolina a break now when the organization has some long-term, big-money commitments. The team locks him in at what should be a very reasonable number, especially if he keeps improving as expected.

27. Fans always ask if there is no-trade protection. Faulk is not eligible for it until the final two years of the extension. There is some protection -- he can submit a list. To me, this is best for both player and club.

28. Was starting to look at the awards voting for this season. The biggest torture is going to be the Norris. You've got "The Big Five" -- Zdeno Chara, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. Then you've got Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niklas Kronwall, Alex Pietrangelo and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. And Mark Giordano. The more you look at Giordano, the better the case. He and partner T.J. Brodie have been excellent for Calgary, playing the tough minutes. In any other year, he gets one of my five slots, easy. Some excellent defenders will be left out.

29. Another Flame quietly having a good year is Mikael Backlund. Don't know how much he's going to score, but you see the possibility he can grow into the same role for Calgary that Sean Couturier plays for Philadelphia. One of the things the organization would like him to do is be readier for the start of the season. He goes home in the summer and, for whatever reason, starts slowly.

30. After Kevin Dineen coached Canada's women's team to the Olympic gold medal, it seemed a certainty that he would run the bench for the men at the world championship. That is not the case, as he will instead lead Canada's team at the Under-18 championship in April. Hockey Canada will wait to see how the playoff races finish before determining who gets the men's world championship job, but an announcement of the management team should come pretty soon. We'll see some new blood here, maybe even a group that doesn't consist solely of GMs. You may see an assistant GM or player personnel guy in the mix.

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