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Reimer Keeps It Positive About Complicated Time With Sharks

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Credit: AP Photo/Matt Krohn

James Reimer’s time with the San Jose Sharks was complicated, to say the least.

Reimer left San Jose in free agency this past summer, signing with the Detroit Red Wings.

“I think my time was probably just done in San Jose,” Reimer, 35, told San Jose Hockey Now in Detroit last month, when asked if there was any discussion with GM Mike Grier about a return. “I’ve [been] through it a few times in my career and free agency. Both sides are used to going your separate ways and just move on with life.”

There’s no doubt that his time here started on a high note: Reimer, first acquired by the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 Trade Deadline, backed up Martin Jones in the franchise’s first-and-only run to the Stanley Cup Final.

“Nothing tops the run, even though I wasn’t playing, but being part of that run in 2016 is super, super special,” he recounted. “There’s always some super-cool, special moments in your career, and just being around all those elite players and just that team where everyone’s kind of together. They had that championship feeling.”

Reimer left the Sharks that summer in free agency but returned five years later as a UFA.

In the first two months of the 2021-22 campaign, Reimer was one of the best goalies in the NHL. At Christmas, his .936 Save % was second in the league, and surprisingly, San Jose was hanging around the playoff race.

For a team that hadn’t had reliable goaltending for three years, Reimer’s performance was an oasis. Off the ice, the affable netminder became one of the more popular San Jose Sharks.

But Reimer couldn’t sustain that play, as the Sharks’ team defense worsened around him, and they missed the playoffs that year and next. From Christmas 2021 to the end of the 2022-23 season, Reimer’s .899 Save % was 36th of 46 goalies (50-plus games).

And of course, there was the deeply-religious netminder’s decision to not wear a Pride Jersey in warm-ups last season, which touched off a firestorm that reached all the way to national news media outlets like Fox News.

Reimer didn’t want to go back to that time.

But also no doubt, that was a polarizing decision that changed, for better or worse, how he was viewed by many in the Bay Area fanbase.

Reimer, as he so often did, preferred to focus on the sunny side of things, when speaking about his time in San Jose.

“Just super-enjoyable,” he said. “There’s so many good experiences there and good people.”

Reimer’s start in the Motor City hasn’t been as smooth as it was in Silicon Valley.

For three weeks in November and December, he was the odd man out in a three-goalie competition between himself, Ville Husso, and Alex Lyon. He’s surrendered five or more goals in his last five starts.

Reimer will back up Lyon tonight, as Husso is out for an indefinite time with a lower-body injury.

He’s just focused on his next opportunity in net with the Red Wings.

“This is a special organization. Special guys in that room,” Reimer said. “Right now, your mind’s on just doing what you can to help this team. It’s a crazy world. It’s a crazy sport. You never know what happens. A game from now or 30 games from now or who knows what.

“This is really a special place to play. So keep on slingin’ it.”

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