Ryan Reaves said growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, few of his fellow hockey players looked like him.
So the Golden Knights forward was honored when the NHL asked him to take part in a video as part of its celebration of Black History Month. The clip, which was released on the league’s YouTube channel Monday, features Reaves visiting the Las Vegas barbershop Haircutz Don’t Lie and discussing how to make hockey more popular in the black community.
“It’s obviously something that we need to talk about,” Reaves said. “I don’t think growing up in black communities, you’re watching hockey. You’re watching basketball, you’re watching football. I think that’s just the stereotype. It’s kind of true right now.”
In the video, Reaves and the patrons and workers at the barbershop talked about how the cost of equipment and the access to ice rinks limits the black community’s participation in hockey and how showcasing the NHL’s black players more might help.
Reaves is also confident that if the sport can reach people at a younger age, particularly if they go to T-Mobile Arena to see what he calls “the best North American sporting event you can go to right now,” hockey has a chance to grow in popularity.
“When you grow up and you play hockey, you create a love for the game,” Reaves said. “That love always starts early. When you don’t have it in your life and you’re growing up with football, basketball, baseball, whatever it is, that’s just what you naturally gravitate towards when you get older.”
Upping the intensity
Coach Gerard Gallant had the Knights practice a few new drills Wednesday after critiquing his team’s play following a 5-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
“I thought we had a great practice today. There was a little more passion, a little more work ethic,” Gallant said. “Today was a little more competitive just to get their noses a little bit more dirty. Hopefully it will carry over to tomorrow’s game.”
Forwards Brandon Pirri and Tomas Nosek missed practice Wednesday due to illness. Gallant said he hoped both would be healthy before Thursday’s game.
Gallant added Nosek was also sick Tuesday, when he was scratched against the Coyotes.
Knights president Kerry Bubolz announced Wednesday that the team hired Darren Eliot as its vice president of hockey programming and facility operations. Eliot will oversee City National Arena’s operations and serve as the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights program’s executive director.