An MLHS’ers encounter with James Reimer


"Salmings_Scar" and James Reimer

Hey guys. I’m sure many of you have read the James Reimer interview on MLHS regarding Reimer’s off-season training with Adam Francilla in Maple Ridge, B.C., at FitLife Training Centre. Since I live in Vancouver, B.C., I decided I would try and go out to where he trains out here, hoping I could somehow meet him, and possibly get an autograph. So here’s my story. I hope you like it and get more hyped for the season!

So I had got a tip from a friend who did an interview with Reimer for a local paper, and he told me when I could catch all the guys training. So a couple Thursdays ago (Aug 11th), I made my way out to Maple Ridge BC (in my Leafs jersey and hat of course) where he, Andrew Ladd, and others do their off-season training. No players were there when I arrived at the facility at 8 a.m., but Mr. Adam Francilla himself was. He indicated that they were doing dry land training off sight that day, but that he could call James Reimer on my behalf. So Adam makes a personal call for me, if you can believe it, and asks him if it’s cool if I go out to their dry land track to meet him! Reimer said it was no problem at all and he’d be happy to do it.

Reimer's trainer Adam Francilla

While I was with Mr. Francilla, I had a chance to pick his brain, and ask him how James’ off-season workouts were going so far. I’ll give you a few quotes. Francilla said, “He’s so down to earth and the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He’s been working so hard, and has that natural farmer’s strength.” And without touching too much on the religion impact or side of things, he said, “He believes in something bigger than himself, Andrew Ladd is the same, which allows him to stay grounded, and somewhat removed from the success, or struggles that might occur.”  I asked about the specific training I had read about in previous articles. He went on to say that their primary focus has been on the lower core, and he’s actually shed some weight, about 10lbs, which should allow him to be quicker and hopefully help sustain the bigger workload he expects this year. “He’s very focused on what he needs to do this year. It’s a big year for Laddy [Andrew Ladd] as well…  being the captain of a team in a Canadian market now. They’ve been pushing each other.”

So as I waited at the high school track and field for Reimer to arrive, I spoke to some of the athletes that were there. One being Quinn Amiel, a centre who plays at the University of Alberta, and won the SIJHL (Superior International Junior Hockey League) MVP in 2007-08. He’s from Maple Ridge himself, and says he’s known Reimer for four years now, as he trains with him the last few summers at the FitLife training facility with Francilla. Here said about James: “He’s been working out really hard, just relentless, his legs are huge! A goalie doesn’t have to bench 360lbs, but he doesn’t quit.” I asked about the sophomore jinx…”He’s so focused on keeping that from happening, he’s so driven and I’ll guarantee you – (stopping himself briefly) – well, I’m pretty certain he’s going to have a good year.”

So Reimer arrives now, with a big smile on his face as he sees me in my Leafs jersey and hat (pictured above). To give you an idea on size differential, I’m 5’8, 155lbs. So even though he’s 6’2, he looks pretty huge compared to me! I may have looked a bit odd wearing the blue ‘n white in BC on a warm summer day (believe me, I got some looks), but hey, maybe going that extra mile is what got me there!

So I thanked him for seeing me, and he said no problem at all. He seemed kind of shy, but that’s likely just his humble nature. To my surprise, he actually asked me, “So what do you think about Burkie’s moves this off season?” Which was cool. I replied, touching on how many fans wanted the “big fish” UFA, but that I was happy with who we acquired as it didn’t sacrifice too much of our future. More specifically, I talked about Connolly helping out our PP, taking some pressure of Kessel, and the addition of Franson as another big D to hopefully help the PP, as well as clear the front of the net. (I do know Franson’s defensive zone play is a concern up to this point early in his career). Reimer was happy with the off season moves, he said.

As a goalie myself, I mentioned how his “5 R’s” (Review, Release negative, Reload, Re-focus, Relentless energy, a tool that he uses as part of his mental game after giving up a goal), actually had an impact on my own game, and kind of helped me win a championship for our Div 5 Mens team. And with enthusiasm, he congratulated me on that saying “Right on! That’s great.” I was thinking to myself, I’m sure it’s no big thing to him, but what a genuinely nice guy!

I mentioned that I hope some of his strong mental focus and calmness rubs off a little on Gus (probably shouldn’t have gone there, but sometimes in the moment you don’t always say the right thing!). He shied away from that one, and said that Gus has been doing his off-season training in Toronto and hasn’t really spoken to him much over the summer (up until recently). I guess even though they are teammates, we shouldn’t discount that goaltending is always an “in house” competition, even though they support each other during the year. But good to hear the Monster is practicing in T.O. Sounds like he’s taking this upcoming season seriously too.

Finally, I asked him if he’s pumped for the upcoming season. A smile came over his face. “I can’t wait to get going for sure.” Bodes well for us, boys!

James was nice enough to take a picture with me, and sign a sweet picture of him I found on the internet. I thanked him and said, “Just so you know, all of Leaf Nation is BEHIND you this year, and not ON you!” He laughed and said, “That’s great to know!  I appreciate that. Thanks.” I wished him a great season and that was that.

What a great day! Funny how a 34-year-old man (me), can somehow be nervous/excited meeting a 23-year-old kid, but that’s how she went I guess. Fortunately I was able to avoid being a gushing schoolgirl and had some decent hockey chats with him and his trainer, as well as a few of the other players there. Reimer is a genuine, nice and humble athlete that will always appreciate what he has. I would say, after speaking to him and his trainer, that Leafs Nation doesn’t need to worry about his drive and commitment for succeeding this year. At the very least, I’m confident he’ll battle every night and won’t give up and crawl into a hole through the rough times. Which hopefully means he can be a “streak killer” – able to stop losing streaks from getting too big in those tough parts of the schedule.

I’m not a professional journalist or interviewer, but I hope you guys enjoyed this and it provides maybe a bit of relief in regards to Reimer heading into the season, and gets you pumped at the same time! Nothing is guaranteed of course, but when I met him, I met a VERY focused athlete who seems ready to unleash something this year.

Go Leafs!

Mat Chouinard aka Salming’s_Scar