Goalie trade? What goalie trade?
That was the public attitude of James Reimer and his fellow Toronto Maple Leafs as they went back to work Thursday, one day after general manager David Nonis just missed landing Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo by the NHL’s trade deadline.
Nonis actually had a deal in place with the Calgary Flames for Kiprusoff but he decided Wednesday morning to stay in Calgary. Then the focus switched to Vancouver, where Nonis was willing to give up a second- and third-round pick plus Leafs backup goaltender Ben Scrivens for Luongo, but the deal fell apart when Canucks GM Mike Gillis reportedly would not pay part of Luongo’s humongous contract, one the veteran goaltender famously said “sucks” in a post-deadline press conference.
The drama built to an anti-climax with the Leafs on a four-day break, giving youngsters Reimer and Scrivens lots of time to agonize over the fact their bosses were looking elsewhere for goaltending help. But as the Leafs prepared for Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Reimer, who will start, brushed aside any suggestion he is the sort of delicate flower whose feelings were bruised by the dances with Luongo and Kiprusoff.
“I wasn’t too worried about it and I’m glad I wasn’t,” he said after the Leafs’ game-day skate. “If I was, I would have wasted a couple of good days.”
Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said he did not notice any angst on the part of his incumbent goalies.
“Their work ethic and personalities didn’t change,” he said. “I didn’t see them sitting in the corner and fretting.”
The newest Maple Leaf, defenceman Ryan O’Byrne, was still making his way to Toronto from Colorado Thursday morning and missed the skate. Carlyle said he was not expected to arrive until the late afternoon and wasn’t sure if he would put O’Byrne into the lineup.
“I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, pull him off an airplane and put him in the lineup,” Carlyle said. “That’s a decision we’ll make tonight. It is an option.”
If the 6-foot-5, 234-pound O’Byrne is put into the lineup, Leafs fans will find that he is a physical defenceman who takes care of business in his own end, according to John-Michael Liles, who was his partner with the Colorado Avalanche and is expected to be reunited with him.
“He’s an easy guy to play with,” said Liles, who is the exact opposite of O’Byrne, a small defenceman who is slick with the puck. “He’s big but still moves pretty well for a big man. He communicates well and I liked playing with him.”
Also on the bubble is forward Frazer McLaren. He is still recovering from the flu, although he took part in Thursday’s skate. Carlyle said McLaren is spending most of his time “close to the bathroom” and will be a game-time decision.
The Leafs called up centre Joe Colborne from their Toronto Marlies farm team just in case McLaren can’t play. Forwards Clarke MacArthur and Leo Komarov are close to returning from injuries but Komarov will not play against the Flyers while MacArthur is doubtful.