How Fighting Got Ryan Reaves to the NHL, and Why ‘John Wick Mode’ Keeps Him in Vegas

“I love this city, I love this team, and I want to stay here,” Reaves tells Mix 94.1's Mercedes and JC

May 31, 2019
Ryan Reaves visits Mercedes in the Morning

When Vegas Golden Knights right winger Ryan Reaves finally squared off against longtime nemesis Evander Kane during the 2019 NHL Playoffs, it was “a long time coming.”

Reaves is blunt when he says, “there’s not a love” between him and the San Jose Sharks left winger. Perhaps in a bygone era, he would have settled things differently, but it likely wouldn’t have been in the NHL.

“I never used to be a fighter,” Reaves tells Mix 94.1’s Mercedes Martinez. “My first year in Peoria, which is the AHL, I didn’t fight at all, I think I had two fights but I still played the same style.”

Reaves says a shoulder injury early in his career dissuaded him from fighting too much, but a coach warned him that his non-confrontational approach might be a hindrance to his career.

“[He] said, ‘If you want to make it to the NHL you have to start fighting, that’s just the style you play,’” he says. “I went home and I took boxing lessons all summer, and I came back and I fought every single thing that moved.

“It ended up getting me noticed and I got called up.”

Reaves’ playing style has earned him cheers on the ice, and his non-hockey ventures—most notably his 7Five Brewing company—has strengthened his bond with Las Vegas fans. On June 8, Reaves will host and serve his beer at a meet-and-greet event inside SG Bar at 9850 W. Flamingo Rd. The event will give him a chance to interact with fans outside of T-Mobile Arena and Albertsons, the other place where he’s often recognized.

“I could have a whole mural of picture from Albertsons,” he laughs. “Somebody’s actually pulled up behind me and kinda cut me off, [asking], ‘Hey are you Reavo?’”

The level of celebrity he’s experienced in the desert is something Reaves didn’t see coming when he came to the Golden Knights in 2018.

“I was in St. Louis for seven years and it wasn’t like this at all,” he says. “I was only in Pittsburgh for five months and they hated me there.”

Southern Nevada, Reaves adds, feels like home. Unlike previous cities he’s played in, he plans to stay in Las Vegas during the summer, and though his two-year contract is up July 1, he’s hoping to remain with the team.

“I love this city, I love this team, and I want to stay here,” he says.