The goal-scoring exploits of Phil Kessel have slowed somewhat from the mesmerizing pace he set earlier in the season, and David Clarkson, the expensive off-season free-agent acquisition, continues to perform like he is auditioning for the fourth line.
But those issues appear almost inconsequential when it comes to public reaction over the struggles of Toronto Maple Leafs’ backup goaltender James Reimer – even his wife has been subjected to harassment on Twitter.
Toronto is in danger of falling out of the playoff picture with nine games left in the National Hockey League regular season, yet some of the infantile minds that inhabit Leaf Nation and bravely lurk in Twitter’s cloak of anonymity are in a lather. The Leafs have lost five in a row since Reimer took over the regular goaltending duties from starter Jonathan Bernier, who was forced to the sideline with a groin injury.
Reimer’s play has been sub-par – he got yanked early in the second period after surrendering three goals during Toronto’s eventual 3-2 loss in New Jersey to the Devils on Sunday night. So Twitter has been ablaze with critical Reimer tweets for the last couple of days.
And following the loss to the Devils, #goaliewifeproblems was trending on Twitter across Canada, with April Reimer taking much of the heat. She became the target because her goaltending husband has not opened a Twitter account.
So that led to: “divorce James right when he gets home, like seriously he’s garbage,” was one of the few printable messages tweeted with the hashtag #weneedbernierbad.
And: “Hey @april_reimer, your husband is a siv what do you see in him?” came another missive.
Or: “@april_reimer you should seriously tell your husband to get psychiatric help because he has become an absolute joke,” stated another.
After the initial attacks, many tweeters leaped to her defence. Her husband could only wish he had the same kind of support recently from his blueliners.
“Whoever attacked April Reimer on twitter is pathetic and disrespectful,” wrote one. “We are Leafs nation we don’t go and trash the players’ wives!”
“Anonymously targeting celebs is gutless enough,” wrote another. “But going after family members? Makes me sad for society.”
April Reimer also had the courage to wade in.
“Don’t mistake my silence for ignorance, my calmness for acceptance, or my kindness as weakness,” she first responded Sunday night. Later she tweeted: “Thankfully the voices of many drown out the voices of a few. Thank you if you wrote me a kind tweet” – a missive she concluded with a smiley face.
The Leafs held an optional practice on Monday at the Air Canada Centre after returning from New Jersey to prepare for Tuesday’s home game against St. Louis. Only a handful of players were on the ice, and Reimer was not one of them.
Bernier did skate, but he is still not certain if he will be ready to be in the lineup on Tuesday. He was asked if he felt the criticism being levied of late against Reimer was fair.
“That’s up to James to answer that question, I guess,” Bernier said. “But on my side, he’s kept the team in the game, you know; he made some good saves. That’s the way it goes right now for him. But he’s really good, he’s been staying really positive and works hard, and that’s James.”
Bernier said he does not have a Twitter account and was unaware of what exactly had been transpiring on social media over the last few days. “Well, obviously that’s tough when they go after family, but you’ve got to live with it,” he said. “It’s a big market but it’s sad to see that, that’s for sure.”