Ryan Reaves mean-mugging the opposition before puck drop
Photo credit: NHL

Veteran winger vents his frustration over his current situation in Toronto

Published January 21, 2024 at 5:39 PM

For veteran enforcer Ryan Reaves, his first season in Toronto has not been ideal, with the now 37-year-old having been in and out of the lineup for most of the season as a healthy scratch. Then, disaster struck for Reaves when he suffered an unfortunate knee injury during a freak accident against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the middle of December, which has had him watching from the press box ever since.

The Leafs have been very quiet about Reaves' health status since the injury, but his presence at practice over the past few weeks had some wondering whether a return was on the horizon for the team's top deterrent. As it turns out, Reaves has been ready to play for the last two weeks. Unfortunately for him, his number simply hasn't been called yet, despite very clear struggles in Toronto, with the Leafs having lost 5 of their last 6 games.

As far as his injury goes, Reaves told Sportsnet's Luke Fox this week that the injury is something he has dealt with for quite some time, and has led to him having to wear knee braces to help him keep everything in place. He outlined the nature of his injury during his recent interview with Sportsnet and it doesn't sound pleasant.

"I have very loose knees. I've torn both knees, like, a ton of times, and I just don't feel comfortable on the ice without them anymore. I've tried taking them off, and my knees are so loose that when I cut, like, to get out of bed the next morning, sometimes they pop out. So, I keep 'em on. I wouldn't even practice without them."

As far as how Reaves feels about spending so much time in the press box this season, he was very candid about what he has endured from a mental standpoint as a result of this most recent series of healthy scratches.

"I mean, it's not fun. Nobody likes watching hockey when your team's going out to battle. I definitely hate it. But there's nothing really more I can do. I don't know exactly what the situation is or what's going to happen. I guess just stay patient and find out.

I talked to my agents. I mean, I've been through this before. I've had highs and lows in my career before. I'd say probably this is one of the tougher ones. I guess just it is what it is. You can only control what you can control. I don't make the lineup, and I don't have any control over the roster."

Reaves seems to be taking the whole thing in stride, understanding that his presence in the lineup or in the press box is out of his control. This is the patience and understanding of a veteran at work and even though he doesn't like it, he understands the business.

There has been a lot of speculation this season, the first year of a 3-year deal that Reaves signed in Toronto last summer, that the big winger could wind up being placed on waivers or traded at some point to free up some cap space. Reaves also told Sportsnet that he's trying not to waste too much time and energy on worrying about what may or may not happen in terms of a trade, much like what he experienced last season in New York shortly before being moved to Minnesota.

"I can't really sit here and speculate and bitch and moan over anything. Either stay patient to get in the lineup — or stay patient for whatever else is going to come."

If the mindset for Reaves is simply to stay ready, then perhaps he eventually gets his shot to secure a spot in the lineup again. The Leafs have plenty of competition in the bottom six right now, so if/when Reaves does get back into the mix, it will be up to him to make the most of his opportunity and hope that his knees hold up. However, if he ends up being waived or traded, it looks like he has already made peace with the fact that it's out of his hands and I don't doubt that he'll take it like a true professional who has been through it all before.

January 21   |   914 answers
Veteran winger vents his frustration over his current situation in Toronto

Will Ryan Reaves request a trade out of Toronto in the first year of his 3-year contract?

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