“He wasn’t happy, he showed passion and he demanded passion from his teammates,” the coach added, referring to Reimer’s comments after Friday night’s 4-1 loss to the Devils in New Jersey, where he called out teammates for lack of passion and resolve. “We didn’t have that in New Jersey. We were soft. So that’s what you need from your leadership group.”
Bernier had been expected to start Tuesday night. While the coach’s decision to go with Reimer raised some eyebrows, it also took into account Bernier’s illness over the weekend and the fact he’s had a lone workout after two days of inactivity.
“(Reimer) has been playing good so, yes, it’s an easy choice to go back with him,” Bernier said of Horachek’s goaltending decision for the Rangers game. “I told Ricky (St. Croix, goalie coach) that I’ve sat two days and now is a good time for me to get some work in.”
While Bernier works his way back after battling flu symptoms over the weekend, he can’t avoid the notion that his status has been eroded. With the playoffs out of reach and nothing to lose, the goalies’ performance will determine who gets the bulk of the ice time with 28 games left in the season.
Horachek aimed to cut off any suggestion of a goalie controversy.
“It’s not a competition. It’s day-to-day, and I’m going to move quick and nip that (talk) every time I hear it,” Horachek said. “They’re both excellent leaders and it’s not about one guy. It’s about winning games. When you guys (media) try to make it a competition. I’m going to step in and nip it in the bud.”
Also Monday, the Leafs softened their timeline on the return of captain Dion Phaneuf from a hand injury. The defenceman was originally believed to be close to returning over the weekend. Instead, they put Phaneuf on long-term injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 21. Horachek hinted that Phaneuf might miss another week or so.