New York Rangers have finally found their swagger and he wears 75; Ryan Reaves

ryan reaves
Nov 16, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Ryan Reaves (75) reacts after his fight with Montreal Canadiens left wing Michael Pezzetta (not pictured) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Former coach David Quinn used the term “swagger” over and over during his tenure. Mostly how the New York Rangers needed to find it.

Swagger seemed to elude the Rangers at almost every turn over the last three seasons. That became glaringly obvious when they were manhandled by Tom Wilson at the Garden and the Islanders leading to another season with no playoff games.

This led to the dismissals of President John Davidson, GM Jeff Gorton, and coach Quinn. It also resulted in the promotion of Chris Drury, who was a hard nosed captain in his playing days.

One of his first orders of business – trade for and extend Ryan Reaves.

Ryan Reaves was the solution to the Rangers swagger problem

Reaves once told a team (likely the Rangers), “I’m the solution to your Tom Wilson problem.”

What the 34 year-old enforcer didn’t realize was his impact would go well beyond that.

The Rangers are one of the top teams in the NHL at 10-3-3. Winners of 4 straight, and have points in 8 of their last 9 contests. While that has a lot to do with Chris Kreider’s 12 goals and Igor Shesterkin’s Vezina worthy goaltending, there is an infectious underlying component that emanates from #75.

SWAGGER.

Since the start of camp, his personality and energy have drawn players to him. While the veterans appreciate “Reavo”, it’s the kids that absolutely love him.

This was obvious during and after last night’s 3-2 win over the Canadiens. A contest where Reaves finally dropped the gloves for the first time on Broadway.

A bewildered Reaves was challenged by young Habs center Michael Pezzetta after a big hit. A decision the 23 year-old rookie would soon regret.

“I was very confused on what was going on,” Reaves said. “That’s the second time in my career that I was confused on whether a guy from the minors was an absolute killer trying to make a name or something, both ended the same way.”

When the fight began, not only did the Garden rise, so did the players. After the pummeling, the Rangers faithful cheered as did the bench with Kaapo Kakko in complete awe and admiration.

“I haven’t seen something like that,” a grinning Kakko said after the game. “Big fight.” 

Reaves, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, picked up the 72 fighting major of his career.

“He’s a good fighter,” a laughing Shesterkin said. “I don’t ever want to be in front of those hot hands.”

Did Reaves fight have an impact? I’m sure that can be debated but the Rangers did score 32 seconds later.

Ryan Reaves a smart enforcer

Ryan Reaves
Nov 8, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Ryan Reaves (75) at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

In 697 career NHL games for the St. Louis Blues (2010-11 to 2016-17), Pittsburgh Penguins (2017-18), Vegas (2017-18 to 2020-21) and Rangers, Reaves has 49 goals, 52 assists and 948 penalty minutes.

Which would have you simply think he’s some goon.

Reaves has also been questioned for not having done something against the Panthers when Shesterkin was steamrolled by Anthony Duclair. More recently, for not going after P.K. Subban, who injured Sammy Blais costing him the season with a torn ACL.

“It’s a close game and Subban’s not going to fight me,“ Reaves explained. “What’s gonna happen? I’m going to crosscheck him and take a penalty and put them on the power play. I think I’d rather try and catch him with his head down with a hit or something like that.”

Looking back, Reaves is 100% right. It’s that kind of situational awareness that makes him so valuable to the Rangers. He’s a physical presence every game and is important to the chemistry in the locker room.

“How about them Rangers,” Reaves said to the press before sitting down with a swagger that’s been missing for years.

How about them Rangers indeed. And how about Mr. Swagger himself, Ryan Reaves.

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