A candid chat with Toronto Maple Leafs superstar James van Riemsdyk
After skating onto the NHL stage with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009, James van Riemsdyk (@JVReemer21) became a member of the Maple Leafs via a trade in June 2012. The left-winger, who has brought a winning combination of speed, skill and size to the blue and white, recently recorded his 200th point in a Toronto uniform. The 27-year-old is looking to play his part in turning the Original Six squad into a Stanley Cup® contender. We caught up with van Riemsdyk just before the NHL® took a break for the holiday season.
What do you love most about playing for the Maple Leafs?
I think what stands out the most is the support we get no matter where we’re playing. You see it across the league in all the rinks we play in. In some instances, our fans are louder for us than the ones in the home team’s building. It makes for an interesting atmosphere.
How do fans impact your game?
It’s funny how dialled-in the fans can be. Just how they understand the little details in the game. They are always encouraging you. At certain times, someone might see you and say, “I saw your last game. Just keep on shooting the puck.” The fans have been so supportive of me in my time here. I’ve really enjoyed everything about Toronto and everything the city has to offer.
What does Leafs Nation mean to you?
The support we get everywhere across the league from our fans is incredible. No matter where we play, it really motivates us. When people say Leafs Nation, it really does feel like an entire nation is behind us because our fans really are everywhere.
What are your thoughts on the Maple Leafs Stand Witness video?
It’s remarkable to be part of an organization that’s marking 100 years and all that entails. It’s a chance to celebrate all of the history and the players who have worn the Leafs jersey. It’s pretty cool to be around to see all of it.
How does it feel to be No. 100 on the Leafs Top 100 Players of All-Time?
I was in the gym just warming up for practice when the media guys came in to let me know about it. Being part of an organization that has a history like the Leafs – an honour like that is pretty special. It was nice to be recognized in that way. It’s one of those things that I’ll look back on one day and realize just how special it is.
What did you like most about the Centennial Classic outdoor game?
It’s a great venue (BMO Field). When they do it in these football/soccer type stadiums, the sightlines are better and it makes for that much better of an atmosphere. It was pretty cool.
Why do you think Winter Week is special?
You get to build on everything around this (outdoor) game and you have to make sure you really soak it all in. It’s a nice way to support the people who support you. It’s also a great chance for families and people to enjoy and celebrate hockey across the city.
What has been your most memorable game so far this season?
I'd say it would be the one against Nashville (three goals and one assist on November 15). Our line was moving the puck around really well. Things seemed to be clicking for us that night. I like that shooting percentage (three goals on three shots).
What did you do over the holidays?
Right after the game in Phoenix, I went back to New Jersey (his home) and stayed until the 26th. We always have an annual outdoor hockey game on Christmas Eve with my family and a couple of close friends at a local rink, which I couldn’t wait for. It’s important to take advantage of the time you have off.
How do you unwind away from the rink?
For me, it’s mostly about relaxing in the condo, watching a lot of TV and movies, things like that. I try to do that just to get hockey off my mind a bit.