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Avenger Myth Surrounding Ryan Reaves Has Been Exposed Again


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The concept of Ryan Reaves acting as either a deterrent or an avenger was once again exposed as one of the NHL’s greatest myths when No. 75 sat idly by when Toronto teammate Timothy Liljegren was injured by Brad Marchand’s patented can-opener move toward the end of the first period in Boston on Thursday. 


Oh, there was some yapping toward the Boston captain from the bench in the wake of the unpenalized, reckless play that sent the defenseman crashing into the boards and onto the long-term injury list. That, however, represented the sum and substance of the Maple Leafs’ response that featured one-time Bruin rental and current Leafs winger Tyler Bertuzzi smirking or laughing at the end of the bench. 



Maybe Reaves does add a dollop of courage to more contact-adverse teammates. That’s what I’m always told by folks on teams who hire the winger. I have a hard time believing there is tangible impact to that. I think that is just what people say because it’s what people always say about players like that. Off his year-plus with the Rangers, Reaves is a huge, quite likable personality who adds charisma to the room but has little constructive impact on the game after the initial sugar rush of No. 75’s presence. 


Reaves will fight … if he has been personally aggrieved. But teammates? Not so much. That should have been established for all time when Reaves did not deign to respond to P.K. Subban’s reckless, slew-footish takedown of Sammy Blais at the Garden in mid-November 2021 that ruined the winger’s nascent career. There was nothing to see there just as there was nothing to see in Boston. 


There is no such thing as deterrence in the NHL. There is only retribution. For the Maple Leafs last week, there was neither. 




For anyone who didn't see the hit:



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We saw it first hand. Reaves is only useful when he's hitting hard and punching faces when shit like this goes down. If he's not doing that, for whatever reason, he's completely useless - he's not good enough a player to warrant a roster spot if he's not doing his main job. Then he gets all bitchy when he gets scratched. 


The Leafs have been outscored 7-0 when he's on the ice. And, while he's not directly responsible, having a player who can't keep up physically and mentally creates voids/gaps good teams will exploit. 

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