As usual, Ryan Reaves was holding court at his City National Arena cubicle following the morning skate for Wednesday’s Golden Knights’ season opener against bitter rival San Jose. Also as usual, he was pontificating about watching the “The Price is Right” on television.
When the time was right, Reaves commented about being denied an opportunity to skate with the Sharks’ Evander Kane in the opening night showcase.
“Very disappointed,” said the Knights’ primary havoc wreaker, whose second favorite pastime after guessing the cost of a can of asparagus is giving head noogies to the San Jose forward known for instigating mayhem in the manner of the Allstate Insurance guy.
“It’s too bad,” Reaves added with a Glen Sather-type smirk. “It would have been nice to see him out there.”
Kane was suspended three games for an altercation with a linesman on Sunday night when the teams combined for 114 penalty minutes in a meaningless preseason game.
During contretemps in which — upset special — Reaves was not involved, Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland cross-checked Kane. The Sharks’ mischief-maker countered with a slash that grazed linesman Kiel Murchison, who grabbed Kane’s jersey as they tumbled to the ice.
Kane shoved Murchison and was banned from participating in further fisticuffs with the Knights on Wednesday and Friday, when the adversaries will put up dukes again in San Jose.
Much has been written about the ongoing and escalating feud between the sides, which recently was ranked No. 1 among current NHL rivalries by Yahoo Sports Canada ahead of Canadiens versus Maple Leafs, Canadiens versus Bruins and Flyers versus Anybody.
But if it’s true that behind every successful man there is a strong woman, it also often goes that behind every bitter hockey rivalry there are puckish pucksters who don’t care for one another.
By now, you probably know the Sharks versus Knights rivalry chapter and verse.
Long before Cody Eakin cross-checked Joe Pavelski in Game 7 of last season’s first-round playoff series and was whistled for a controversial major penalty, long before hell really did freeze over and the Sharks scored four power-play goals in 4:01 to erase 3-0 game and 3-1 series edges by the Knights, Kane received a one-game suspension for cross-checking Pierre-Edouard Bellemare during the teams’ 2018 playoff series.
That led to Reaves feeding Kane a retaliatory knuckle sandwich in the 2019 playoffs. Kane compared Reaves’ pugilistic skills to those of The Muffin Man.
But will they be enemies for life? Or will bygones (and roughing penalties) be bygones?
“They’re all different, they all change,” Knights forward Max Pacioretty said of personal rivalries that often light fuses on kegs of dynamite.
Foes to friends
Trades that brought Pacioretty and Mark Stone to Las Vegas from Montreal and Ottawa, respectively, changed their status from mortal enemies to loyal teammates and linemates. It’s a little different with Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara, the towering Boston Bruins defender who checked Pacioretty into a player bench stanchion, resulting in the latter fracturing his neck and missing the remainder of the 2010-11 season.
But at least they’ve talked twice, including once recently, and have developed a mutual regard for each other as hockey players.
“I respect all the work he’s done to be a future Hall of Famer (but) obviously at the moment it’s a heated rivalry,” Pacioretty said.
Reaves wasn’t talking as if he and Kane will develop the mutual respect of which Pacioretty spoke. But he also said he has been wrong about the power of the olive branch before.
“I had a guy in the AHL I used to fight all the time. I used to hate him on the ice,” Reaves said Wednesday. “I got called up to the NHL and then got sent back down and couldn’t get my car, so I had to stay in the city where I played in the AHL, and I ended up going out for beers with him.”
That is how Reaves and Patrick Bordeleau buried the hatchets and the high sticks when Reaves was with the Peoria Rivermen and Bordeleau the Lake Erie Monsters. Hockeyfights.com never would have predicted those two finding a happy place.
“I think it depends on the guy,” Reaves said. “But I don’t see me and Kane grabbing a beer anytime soon.”