On September 24th, 2017, the St. Louis Blues played the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Kraft Hockeyville game during the NHL preseason at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Belle Vernon, PA. The Blues won the game 4-1 in the newly renovated rink that was played in front of 1,500 fans. Now, to most hockey fans this was a special game, but a preseason game nonetheless. However, to Blues fans, this game had a little more meaning behind it. Blues fans, myself included, still could not believe that big number 75, Ryan Reaves, was now wearing black and yellow instead of blue and yellow.
Reaves did not leave the Blues by choice as he was traded on draft night for Oskar Sundqvist and the 31st overall pick which turned out to be Klim Kostin. People weren’t necessarily upset about him being traded for his hockey talent, but more so what he brought to the team night in and night out as far as his obvious talents; fighting and getting into the opposing team’s head on the ice, but also the charisma and effect he had on the locker room overall. Reaves was a highly regarded player in the Blues locker room, especially over the past few seasons and especially with Vladimir Tarasenko. If you had watched the games, been to them in person, or even seen Tarasenko talk about Reaves and vice versa, their relationship was strong and they each respected each other’s game.
Reaves was in the Blues organization for about twelve years, with the better part of seven of those years being with the NHL club. Specifically, over the last two seasons being on the fourth line with Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall, Reaves and his line-mates brought a lot of energy, conviction, and physicality when they were out there on the ice, even if it was just for a short time. When there was a quick energy boost needed or the team needed some motivation, that 4th line went out there and put in hard work to show the rest of the guys to keep pushing and Ryan Reaves was a huge factor, if not, THE factor on that line. Ryan Reaves has defined hard work in the NHL. He knows he is never going to be a big point getter or factor offensively, but he knows that his hard work and presence on the ice alone change the way other teams approach their game-plan.
The strangest part about Reaves being on the Penguins was the fact that Reaves also symbolized some tougher times for the Blues. Reaves came up to the Blues in a time where the Blues were not really a good team, at least not like they are these days. Reaves played through the struggle of bad teams where he would get a lot of attention for his fights. During his younger days he had many good, crowd exciting fights that still made Blues games have some excitement and gave the team a bit of an edge even when they weren’t necessarily full of talent. This led to him becoming a huge fan favorite even though, again, he was never going to put up the numbers of a typical fan favorite. The heart and dedication Reaves brought to this team every single day for roughly seven years and the era he came up to the team in is what likely led to fans being as upset as they were when he was traded.
Ryan Reaves was and will always be a guy who will be adored when talking about St. Louis Blues hockey. He brought something different to the table and the fans truly appreciated him and his hard-working attitude. Blues fans shouldn’t get too used to seeing him because of him being in the Eastern Conference now, but they will be seeing him again soon, which may not be a good thing for the already bruised up Blues roster. The regular season opener for the Blues and Penguins will be Wednesday, October 4th in Pittsburgh.