Ryan Reaves isn’t sure how it started, which is the case with most wacky superstitions.
You try something different, the team wins, and suddenly it’s part of the routine.
“It gets the boys loose, gets the boys kind of ready to go, fires them up just a little bit,” the charismatic Golden Knights winger said. “It’s something a little stupid.”
The easiest way to describe Reaves’ pregame tradition is that he’s trying to pump up the bench prior to the opening faceoff.
But, let’s face it. What he’s really doing is beating the holy bleep out of a member of the coaching staff.
— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) March 26, 2019
“I want to make sure the coaches are ready to go just like we are,” Reaves said with a wide grin, “so I just wake them up a little.”
From what Reaves can recall, his pregame routine previously included something with that game’s backup goaltender and then gradually moved over to the coaching staff.
During the time after the national anthem and prior to the opening faceoff, Reaves will tap a member of the coaching staff — usually coach Gerard Gallant — with the blade of his stick.
“He’s a little superstitious, I guess,” Gallant said.
Reaves said he has been doing this all season, but it’s gained more attention in recent weeks as he’s been forced to go to greater lengths in order to carry out the routine.
When the Knights hosted the Edmonton Oilers on March 17, NBC Sports Network cameras caught Reaves charging at Gallant on the other end of the bench, and assistant coach Mike Kelly was nearly wiped out in the process.
Without any context, it briefly appeared Reaves was assaulting a coach, when in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Reaves was pissed about something! pic.twitter.com/Y9VrZdCOIO
— LeafsTatamiTalk (@LeafsTatamiTalk) March 18, 2019
Since then, social media has been flooded during Knights games with GIFs and videos of Reaves spearing and then playfully roughing up one of the coaches.
“People are starting to realize it because now he goes across the bench to go to a coach,” linemate William Carrier said. “When there’s a big boy like that coming at you, it always gets you freaked out. You’ve got to be on the bench to get it, but it gets the boys fired up, and it’s part of the routine now. It’s good.”
Gallant is Reaves’ prime target, though none of the coaches are safe.
“Turk usually gets a good stick,” Reaves said of Gallant. “It just depends. If we win, I stay with the same coach. If we lose, I switch.”
During Monday’s game at St. Louis, Reaves reached across the bench to give Gallant a tap in the ribs with his stick, then grabbed assistant Ryan Craig by the arms and gave him a shake.
When the Knights host the Minnesota Wild on Friday at T-Mobile Arena looking to clinch a berth in the postseason, Reaves’ target figures to be assistant Ryan McGill or Kelly.
“It’s part of our role, trying to get the guys fired up and try to get the guys going,” Carrier said. “You have to be kind of relaxed on the bench but still hyped up, so that’s what we try to bring in for the boys.”
Reaves has career highs in goals (9), assists (11) and points (20), so something must be working.
His 62 penalty minutes in 76 games are the fewest since 2015-16, when he had 68 in 64 games for the Blues.
“It’s a good laugh. If his little superstition is going to make him play better, then go right ahead,” Gallant said. “As long as he doesn’t hurt anybody.”
■ Who: Golden Knights vs. Wild
■ When: 7 p.m. Friday
■ Where: T-Mobile Arena
■ TV: AT&T SportsNet (Cox 313/1313, DirecTV 684, CenturyLink 760/1760, U-verse 757/1757, Dish 414/5414)
■ Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM); ESPN Deportes (1460 AM)
■ Line: Off
1. “Third time lucky”? Not Foghat’s best song, but still relevant. The Knights swung and missed on their first two chances to clinch a playoff berth and have dropped three straight overall. They have another chance to clinch against the Wild and need one point to get it done. If not, an Arizona loss at Colorado will do the trick.
2. “Urgent, urgent, emergency.” Foreigner’s song seems to apply, since Minnesota’s playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, four points behind Colorado for the second wild-card spot. The Knights met a pair of desperate teams on the road this week and failed to match their urgency.
3. “Goodbye stranger.” Supertramp rounds out the ’70s rock theme, since the Knights’ lineup won’t become clear until Friday’s morning skate. Left wings Max Pacioretty and Brandon Pirri did not make the road trip, but could be returning soon. And goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is close, too.
David Schoen Review-Journal