Randy Carlyle had to know what he was doing. When you’re the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, you know full well that everything you say will be scrutinized to the extreme. Especially when it’s perceived as criticism following a loss.
On Tuesday night, Carlyle’s Maple Leafs lost to an absolutely depleted Red Wings team 3-2 to wrap up their five-game road trip with a 2-3 record. And there’s no doubt that Carlyle was frustrated.
Frustrated with the schedule-makers for throwing in a back-to-back against Detroit and Tampa Bay at the end of a tough road trip. Frustrated because he felt the Red Wings pushed the limits of interference on the ice, effectively slowing Toronto’s forecheck.
“I thought interference was supposed to be called in the NHL,” Carlyle said. “I thought there was a tremendous amount of interference all over the area of the ice. You’ve got to give them credit, they disguised it.”
But then at the end of the postgame media scrum, a seemingly innocent enough question from TSN’s Jonas Siegel overshadowed everything else.
“What did you think of James?” Siegel asked.
“James Reimer? I thought he was OK,” Carlyle answered. “Just OK.”
As far as insults go, it’s not the most inflammatory assessment you’ll ever hear, but considering the microscope with which this team is covered and the history of the relationship between Reimer and this franchise, it immediately became the story.
As the scrum was breaking up, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston relayed Carlyle’s comments out on Twitter. A few minutes later, Johnston checked his phone again. The comment already had more than 100 retweets.
It got even better when Reimer disagreed.
“I thought I was good,” Reimer said after Carlyle’s comments were repeated to him.
And really, if you’re picking a side on this one, it’s hard to place this game on the shoulders of Reimer.