James Reimer must have this figured out.
No, not the whole mystery of goaltending. Goodness gracious, goalies who played in the NHL 20 years ago remain fascinated by the evolution of the art, the newest gear and the unending truth that what works this season may not work next year.
The learning never stops. The adjustments never stop. Some would tell you the cheating never stops.
What Reimer must have figured out, however, is the very straightforward equation that applies to those who tend goal for the Maple Leafs.
Win, and he’ll get limited praise, given that years of losing by the Leafs, years of fans being taunted by “where’s the parade?” every time they celebrate even minor achievements, means individual successes in this town are praised in very restrained fashion.
It’s like people are afraid to even imagine genuine excellence in an athlete for fear they’ll be disappointed yet again, or that player will get paid too much and prove unworthy, or will be traded and win championships elsewhere.
With goalies, it seems accentuated. Felix Potvin turned out not to be a Hall of Famer. Curtis Joseph left. Justin Pogge wasn’t even an NHLer. Vesa Toskala was terrible, Andrew Raycroft not much better, the Monster not really worth the investment.
So every goalie these days is greeted with a sense of suspended belief. Ben Scrivens, after a season of AHL excellence, was treated as some kind of imposter when it was suggested he could be an NHL backup this season.
Of course if a goalie loses, things become very definitive.