Ryan Reaves became a legend in Pittsburgh with his performance on Saturday in the Pens' 4-0 win over Nashville. He finished with a goal and two fights, which he dubbed "the Reavo hat trick," and brought a ton of emotion and energy to the building.
After the second bout with heavyweight Cody McLeod, Reaves laughed all the way to the box and waved goodbye as his opponent got sent to the locker room, which prompted the crowd to begin thunderously chanting, "REAVES! REAVES!" His coaches and teammates were loving it, as Mike Sullivan couldn't keep the smile off his face when Reaves returned to the bench.
To top it off, this year the Pens are awarding their player of the game a Steelers helmet - which Reaves kept on for his entire postgame interview. Sidney Crosby was chirping him about it on Monday, laughing, "You don't wear the helmet for the interview, you know that, right?" Reaves retorted, "Yeah, thanks for telling me that." Crosby shook his head, still laughing, and said "I told him he didn't have to wear it, but he still wore it."
It's safe to say Reaves, who has a phenomenal sense of humor, has become a favorite in both the locker room and with the fans. And for anyone who wants to know more about the 30-year-old from Winnipeg, here are three takeaways from our conversation following the Pens' Monday practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Center.
1. Picking his favorite tattoo is impossible
After his big night, a fan tweeted at Reaves and said "If @rreaves75 retweets this I will get a tattoo of him." Reaves replied and said, "Make sure you get it of my good side." Reaves has a bunch of tattoos of his own, and said he can't single out which one is most special to him. "That's a tough question because almost every one has something behind it," he said. "I have one for my son Kane I just got, which I really like. I have one for each of my three buddies that died. I have my journey in hockey. They're all very special to me. They all have a story."
2. He used to box all the time
For anyone who was wondering where he got that right hook he pummeled McLeod with, Reaves said he started to box after his first AHL season. "That was because I had never really fought before," said Reaves, who's listed at 6-1 and 225 pounds. "I wasn't really a fighter when I got drafted. I played very physical and that's kind of what turned me into somebody who had to fight because you had to answer the bell, you had to protect guys." That summer, he would go at least two or three times a week, and the next season, "I fought everything that moved." As the game has changed Reaves boxes a lot less, but still does it every now and then, especially since it's an unbelievable cardio workout.
3. He's terrified of sharks and the ocean
Reaves may be a tough guy on the ice, but not in the water. "Here's my argument," Reaves said. "When was the last time you saw a fish come on land and mess with a human? Why would I go in the ocean and mess with a fish?" He went on to tell this hilarious story about swimming in Jamaica during an All-Star break. He and his wife Alanna went on this little cruise while they were there and everybody decided to go snorkeling in the middle of the ocean. At first, Reaves was just going to stay on the boat and relax, but when he realized he was the only one not going, he grudgingly agreed to go. "I just figured, 'I'm going to get in the water and I'm going to stay in a group with everybody, and if sharks come, they're going to work their way from the outside in and I'll be last. Hopefully they're full by that time," he laughed. So Reaves got into the water - which was pretty deep - started swimming, and felt something brush his leg. Somebody told him there were a bunch of fish under him, and Reaves thought that person was messing with him because they knew he hated fish. "But I look under and there are a thousand fish near me," Reaves said. "I put the goggles up like, 'I'm just going to chill. These are just tiny fish, don't worry about it. Act natural. They can smell fear.' Then two minutes, later some guy comes from out of nowhere, snorkeling by himself, and was like, 'hey everybody, come over here! There's a stingray!' And in my head, I was like, 'wait. A stingray killed Steve Irwin.' At that point, Reaves said he freaked out. "Have you ever seen a wake behind somebody swimming because they were so scared? I could have pulled skiers, I was so scared," he laughed. "I got out of there so quick it was ridiculous. That was the last time I ever did that."