Fans and media are puzzled as to why Carlyle didn’t give Jonathan Bernier an immediate chance to redeem himself after the Maple Leafs were blown out 7-1 against the Dallas Stars given how well Bernier has played for Toronto over the past month. Unfortunately, although Bernier has played much better than Reimer in recent weeks, Carlyle needed to start Reimer against the Jets.
Carlyle risked severely upsetting his relationship with Reimer if he didn’t give him the chance to compete against the Jets after Bernier struggled in the previous contest. Although Bernier was pulled after three goals and Reimer entered the game to allow four goals, neither goaltender could be blamed for the loss given how poorly their teammates played in front of them.
Reimer is also from Winnipeg and given that this was the only time Toronto was traveling to Winnipeg now that they are in the Western Conference, had Carlyle not played the goaltender in his hometown there’s no doubt it would have upset Reimer. The chance to play in their hometown in front of friends and family is something every NHL player looks forward to at the start of the season, and there’s little doubt Reimer had the game circled on his calendar.
There’s also absolutely no doubt that if Reimer was the one who was pulled in the previous contest then Bernier would automatically be the starter in the next contest. Had Bernier been pulled against Dallas and then started the contest in Reimer’s hometown, the tension between Reimer and the coaching staff would have hit an all-time high.
Carlyle did the right thing by starting Reimer, but unfortunately things didn’t work out. Bernier has been the better goaltender between the two Toronto goalies and will likely start the majority of the games moving forward. However, there should be no second-guessing Carlyle as he simply attempted to give Reimer an opportunity to turn his season around in front of friends and family.