‘Time for a change’: FOX5 goes 1-on-1 with former Golden Knight Ryan Reaves
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - It has been a summer of change for the Golden Knights, as the medieval maniacs have had to say goodbye to not one, but two original misfits.
Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Reaves will go down as two of the biggest fan favorites to ever wear a VGK sweater, but at the end of the day hockey is not a popularity contest, it’s about the Cup.
“I think when you’re close every year, but you’re not quite there, you’re always expecting some kind of change,” explained Reaves. “I think with me I’m getting a little older and when I was younger, I did it to players, there were guys I pushed off in St. Louis I took there spot and that’s just the nature of the beast, when you get older there is going to be younger guys that are cheaper, that are just younger, they’re coming up and going to take your spot and it is what it is. When you don’t win the Cup there is always going to be some kind of change coming and I think with some of the trades they made, they brought in a couple right wingers, it was just the writing was kind of on the wall. Time for a change.”
Reaves was traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 3rd-round pick. During his four seasons in Vegas, Reaves played in 209 games totaling 18 goals, 42 points, and racked up 837 hits. Off the ice, he started a beer company, 7Five Brewing and has been a staple in the community and was the face of water conservation here in the Valley.
“When you’re attached to the community, you’re kind of out there a little more, it seems like you’ve been there for a lot longer than you have. I was in St. Louis for seven years, I’ve only been here for four, not even, so I think the more you do in the community, the more you do with the fans, having the beer company helped with that too, you kind of ingrain yourself in the city,” explained Reaves. You see lots of guys are calling this place home even when they retire, I’m keeping my house here for right now and I plan on coming back for the time being. It was fun.
“Anywhere you go you want to leave a positive impact on the franchise, you want to be part of the culture and grow,” Reaves continued. “Especially as an older guy you want to, when you’re there you’re growing the culture the right way, and when you leave that you’ve left the culture the right way. I think I tried doing that as much as I could here, it was fun being part of it from the beginning for sure. I hope I made a lasting impression on the city and the fans and the team and the franchise. I wish we could have won the Stanley Cup, but I hope I can win a Stanley Cup with the Rangers now for sure.”
Reaves has been able to create many memorable moments during his Vegas tenure. His biggest on the ice happened during Game 5 of the 2018 Western Conference Final, when he scored the game-winning, series-clinching goal in his hometown of Winnipeg, sending the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. When asked what his favorite moment was, it turned out to be his first home game in Vegas.
“I think the first time I walked out of the helmet was probably the coolest thing for me,” Reaves said. “I’ve always said the way Vegas does the team is the way they do the city, the city is the entertainment capital of the world, they like to entertain, the Vegas Golden Knights are no different. They like to entertain, there is a show and then there is a hockey game on ice and they compliment each other very well. I think when you come out of that helmet, they’re yelling Vegas and the song that’s going on, it’s a cool thing to be part of, just the show they put on is something I’ll always remember.”
Reaves will play his 12th NHL season in New York, reunited with head coach Gerard Gallant who was hired by the Rangers this summer.
“I’m excited to play for him, arguably my best two seasons was under Turk, I think he’s a guy who understands my role pretty well, not to say Pete doesn’t, but I think Turk understands my role and he likes to use me in different situations and he gives me the confidence to go out and play my game. I grew a lot as a player when he was here and it allowed my four years in Vegas to be the best four years of my career arguably. I’m excited to get down there and play for him for sure,” Reaves said.
Shortly after the trade became official, the Rangers signed Reaves to a one-year contract extension worth $1.75 million, keeping him in New York through 2023.
“I’m 34 now, there is not a lot of guys that can say they played in the NHL until they were 36 and now fortunately I’m one of the lucky few,” Reaves said. “Hopefully I can keep going after that, but to have some stability, no where I’m going to be the next two years on a young, really good team coming up, they have some really good young talent. I haven’t won a Cup yet, and I want to take a run at it this year and next year, so I’m excited to get down there and start it up.”
All eyes will now be on Reaves and Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, who will meet three times this coming season. The two have become bitter enemies over the years while Reaves was with the Golden Knights.
“I love the rivalries, I’m leaving one here with San Jose and going down to the east with Washington and I’m sure there will be some heated battles with the Islanders too. It’s going to be fun, those are the kinds of games that I love,” Reaves said. “I don’t like the emotionless skate up and down and nothing really happens, I love some emotion and some hatred in the games and I think that brings the best out of me and so I’m looking forward to all of that down there.”
Reaves said one of the biggest questions he has been asked since the trade is, ‘Will the beer business continue?’ The answer is yes. He said hockey will always come first, but he is hoping to expand his company to the east coast over the next couple years.
“I hope now that I’m gone Vegas doesn’t forget to drink the beer, I hope they still enjoy it even though I’m not on the team. We’re going to keep the company going, keep it growing and see what happens.”
The Golden Knights and Rangers will meet twice this upcoming season. The first will be at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 17, with the Gallant-Reaves reunion at T-Mobile Arena on Jan. 6, 2022.
“I’ve told the boys to keep their head up because I will be coming,” Reaves said. “My first game back in St. Louis was tough to play in that game only because I was there for seven years. That was the first time I’ve ever been traded, first time I’ve known a new team, I think now that I’ve been traded twice, or three times now, I think it will be a little bit easier. It’s hard not to have some kind of emotion when you’re attached to the city and you had a good time with the team, it’s hard to have no emotion, but I think it will be easier than the first time because I’ve gone through it.
“Hockey is a business that there are emotions attached to it, but when you’re trying to win a Cup, sometimes you have to take the emotion out of that. It’s something that I’ve learned over the years, the first one was hard leaving St. Louis. Pittsburgh was a little easier because I was there for six months, but leaving here is hard, but I think it’s still easier than the first time. I’m a little older and wiser in my thinking and sometimes you have to go where you’re wanted and I’m wanted in New York. I’m excited to be wanted in New York, excited to get down there and play and I have no regrets what happened here in my four years here. I had a blast, the fans treated me really well, the team treated me really well so I have no regrets to what happened.”
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