A coaching change isn’t the only transformation going on with the Toronto Maple Leafs right now: Beleaguered goaltender James Reimer is also switching things up with a new mask that plays strongly off his nickname, Optimus Reim.
Like his old lid, which featured the popular Hockey Night in Canada duo of Ron MacLean and Don Cherry, Reimer’s new Transformers-themed mask was painted by Swedish sensation Dave Gunnarsson of Daveart.com
The CBC commentators have been replaced on the right side of the mask by the two forms of Optimus Prime – a dominant shadow of the robot lurking in the shade over the big rig automobile version of the leader of the Autobots – while the left side of the new mask features the Autobot symbol that was turned into a t-shirt to honour Reimer during his breakout rookie season last year.
At the time of publishing this piece we hadn’t had a look at the back plate yet so it’s not certain if it will again reflect Reimer’s strong Christian faith. For the complete story behind the most personal part of Reimer’s mask, see this in-depth piece from the InGoal Digital Magazine.
Leafs fans are clearly hoping Reimer, who has struggled to find that frst-year form since coming back from an early season concussion, can “transform” back into the goaltender they had such high hopes for heading into this season.
Friday’s coaching change, with a more structured Randy Carlyle taking over for the fired Ron Wilson, should at least be a better fit with the percentage-based blocking style of puck stopping taught by Leafs’ goalie guru Francois Allaire, who has come under heavy fire in Toronto amid his goalie’s recent struggles but got a vote of confidence from GM and President Brian Burke.
As for the mask? While if it’s a matter of look good, feel good, play good, Reimer could undergo a transformation.