Going round and round… ’cause you can’t get on your feet;
Going round and round… still taking all the heat.
— Ric Ocasek, The Cars, 1986
By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Nov. 18) — Oh, it was just what he needed.
James Reimer couldn’t stay on his feet and he took all the heat for the Maple Leafs in Buffalo Saturday night. The good times were no longer rolling and even his best friend’s girl might have jeered him in the manner thousands did at the First Niagara Center. “Don’cha stop nothing?” a Toronto hockey fan moaned. “Heck, you’re all I’ve got tonight.”
Okay, you probably get it by now. Yes, I still enjoy listening to The Cars: Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr and the boys that put out the best New Wave sound in the 1970’s and 80’s. Even a nominal creation by the group (though I think its best-ever song) — I’m Not The One (chorus at top of the page) — seems to apply in this metaphoric circumstance. For Reimer appeared not to be even one of two during the summer months, when getting traded by the Maple Leafs topped his hockey wish list. Reimer’s contractual position (a Group II restricted free agent) all but forced him, however, to sign a two-year offer from the club and he showed up at training camp with healthy resignation. Jonathan Bernier would again be accommodated as the Leafs No. 1 goalie with Optimus Reim at the ready.
After Saturday night, that would appear cast in stone. But, should it be?
FOUNDER AND LEAD VOCALIST RIC OCASEK OF THE CARS.
When you get down to it, Reimer had an appalling game in Buffalo, which placed him in the exclusive category of absolutely no one. There were 18 clowns stumbling about in front of him against the worst team in the National Hockey League. The visitors were richly deserving of their fate. But, hey, it was one lousy game in 82. And Reimer shouldn’t be castigated to any larger degree than his teammates. A good strategy, in fact, for Randy Carlyle would be to burn the video — perhaps in a private ceremony with all the culprits in one room. Under no circumstance should the humiliation at First Niagara Center turn Carlyle against Reimer, as appeared to be the case in the final, dreadful month of last season.
Tonight provides an opportunity for redemption, but it won’t be easy. The Nashville Predators come to town with the sixth–best record in the NHL: 11–4–2 for 24 points. These aren’t your uncle’s Nashville Predators. A grinding, defensive outfit under long–time coach Barry Trotz has become more of a puck–pressure team with Peter Laviolette behind the bench. Other than wearing their white road uniforms with dark–blue and gold trim, the Preds may not be recognizable. All of which, tonight, falls into the lap of Bernier, who augmented his No. 1 rank by merely sitting on the Leafs bench in Buffalo. Reimer took the cat–calls from 17,000–plus and has gnawed on the 6–2 embarrassment for more than 48 hours.
It should quickly be forgotten, by player and coach, as quickly as the Maple Leafs 6–1–1 record before last Friday became ancient history.
As the Leafs found out against Pittsburgh and Buffalo over the weekend — and as Ric Ocasek might tell them — good times do not roll forever.
RED CARPET AT THE HALL OF FAME
With apologies to the late Joan Rivers and her daughter, Melissa, I make it my business to attend one Red Carpet ceremony a year — in the third week of November — at the Hockey Hall of Fame. And, there I was on Monday night as the luminaries passed by en route to the 2014 Class inductions of Pat Burns, Dominik Hasek, Peter Forsberg, Mike Modano, Rob Blake, referee Bill McCreary and USA Today legend Kevin Allen.
As per usual, I had my trusty NIKON with me:
TV BACKGROUND FOR THE HALL-OF-FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY.
FRONT ST. ENTRANCE TO THE HALL (LEFT) AND COMMEMORATIVE STATUE FOR “CANADA’S TEAM OF THE CENTURY” — THE LEGENDARY SQUAD THAT BEAT THE RUSSIANS IN SEPTEMBER 1972.
THE “BIG WEED” ARRIVES: I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF COVERING VIRTUALLY EVERY GAME MATS SUNDIN PLAYED WITH TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS FOR THE FAN-590 BETWEEN 1995 AND 2008.
AND THEN COMES “THE KING” — BORJE SALMING — THE LEAFS DEFENSEMAN OF THE 1970’s WHO WILL BE ADDED TO LEGENDS ROW OUTSIDE THE AIR CANADA CENTRE IN SEPTEMBER.
SALMING ACCOMPANIED (LEFT) BY WIFE MARGITTA AND THEN INTERVIEWED FOR TV.
EVEN WITH HIS EYES CLOSED, LANNY McDONALD IS UNMISTAKABLE.
JOHN ZEIGLER JR., 80, THE FOURTH PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE (1977 TO 1992).
CALGARY FLAMES PRESIDENT BRIAN BURKE INTERVIEWED ON TSN BY GINO REDA.
TED LINDSAY, THE 89-YEAR-OLD DETROIT RED WINGS LEGEND, ATTENDED WITH A HEAVY HEART — HIS FORMER LINE-MATE, GORDIE HOWE, IN PERILOUS CONDITION AFTER A STROKE.
IF HE DOESN’T PLAY ANOTHER GAME IN THE NHL, MARTIN BRODEUR WILL BE A FIRST-BALLOT HALL-OF-FAMER THREE YEARS FROM NOW. THE ALL-TIME WINS LEADER AMONG GOALIES HASN’T YET JOINED A TEAM THIS YEAR AFTER HIS REMARKABLE TENURE WITH THE NEW JERSEY DEVILS.
A COUPLE OF OLD FAN-590 CRONIES — YOURS TRULY AND FIRST-YEAR HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA HOST GEORGE STROUMBOULOPOULOS. I’LL NEVER FORGET STROMBO FOR ANNOUNCING THE BIRTH OF MY SON, SHANE, ON OUR RADIO STATION DURING THE WEE-MORNING HOURS OF DEC. 6, 1996. HE’S GONE ON TO MUCH BIGGER AND BETTER. SO HAS SHANE.
ACTOR AND MEGA HOCKEY FAN CUBA GOODING JR. GABS ON TV (ABOVE) AND KIBITZES (BELOW) ON TSN RADIO WITH LOS ANGELES KINGS HALL-OF-FAMER LUC ROBITAILLE.
CLARK GILLIES AND WIFE PAM (LEFT); GILLIES AS HE APPEARED (RIGHT) EARLY IN HIS PLAYING CAREER WITH THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS. CLARK WAS CAPTAIN OF THE LAST TEAM TO WIN FOUR CONSECUTIVE STANLEY CUP TITLES: THE ISLANDERS OF 1980 TO 1983.
BILLY SMITH ?? GOALTENDER OF THE ISLANDERS STANLEY CUP DYNASTY.
HAMMING IT UP FOR THE CAMERA (LEFT) IS LEGENDARY NHL LINESMAN MATT PAVELICH, WHO WORKED THE GAME AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS ON MAY 2, 1967 — LAST NIGHT THE LEAFS WON THE STANLEY CUP. WITH PAVELICH IS FORMER NHL REFEREE RON HOGGARTH.
CURRENT NHL REFEREES WES McCAULEY (LEFT) AND STEPHEN WALKOM.
CHRIS PRONGER, THE NHL’s MOST DOMINEERING PLAYER BETWEEN 2000 AND 2010.
AGENT TO THE STARS PAT BRISSON, BEST KNOWN AS SIDNEY CROSBY’S REP.
QUEBEC NORDIQUES HALL-OF-FAMER PETER STASTNY (LEFT) AND CURRENT DETROIT RED WINGS COACH MIKE BABCOCK, WHO WILL JOIN STASTNY ONE DAY.
CLIFF FLETCHER WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED AROUND HERE AS THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOUG GILMOUR TO THE MAPLE LEAFS ON JAN. 2, 1992.
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