Ryan Reaves celebrates a huge fight win
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Ryan Reaves addresses the idea of fighting Rangers enforcer Matt Rempe tonight

Published March 2, 2024 at 12:01
BY MIKE ARMENTI

Maple Leafs franchise cornerstone Auston Matthews showed a side of himself on Thursday that we aren't used to seeing when he leaned over the boards, howling like a wolf, pounding his stick on the boards and on the ice in celebration of a Ryan Reaves fight against Coyotes forward Liam O'Brien. If that alone doesn't give you some insight as to what Ryan Reaves means to his teammates, I don't know what will.

Matthews recently told the media that Reaves has been playing some of the best hockey that he's seen him play this season over this most recent stretch of games and the eye test also affirms this. Reaves and the Leafs' 4th line has been playing with pace and energy and has hemmed quite a few teams in during recent games. Reaves has also produced a goal and an assist in his last 4 games, providing some secondary offensive contributions for his team. Still, even though he has been playing better of late, he's mainly here for one specific reason - to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition and provide some energy for his teammates.

Tonight, the Leafs host the New York Rangers, who happen to have a feisty young rookie in 21-year-old Matt Rempe in the lineup. Rempe has shown himself to be a pretty tough customer over his first few NHL games, racking up fighting majors in 4 of his 6 games this season. A lot of people were looking forward to tonight's game with a lot of anticipation over whether Reaves and Rempe will drop the gloves in a rare fight where Reaves would be giving up some size. Rempe, who stands 6'7 and 241 lbs towers over Reaves, who stands 6'2, 226 lbs. However, as we know, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, as they say.

As it turns out, Reaves has heard the chatter and had a chance to respond to it today following practice. Will Reaves and Rempe go? According to Reaves, he would never turn down a challenge.


"I'm not just gonna square up with him at centre ice. But if something happens, whether I run somebody or he runs somebody, I got no reason to decline or not go after him. Or if he comes after me, I got no reason to say no. So ..."

Reaves had mentioned that when he was Rempe's age, he would often challenge older guys to a fight, but to no avail. Lots of the veteran enforcers, according to Reaves, wanted the young guys to earn the right to drop the mitts first. Reaves never understood this, as his opinion was always "how do you earn it without fighting a bigger guy?"

Will we see Rempe and Reavo drop the gloves and go toe-to-toe tonight? My gut says yes, but we'll have to just wait and see. However, it's nice to know that if Rempe extended the challenge, Reavo would answer the bell without hesitation.

POLL
March 2   |   598 answers
Ryan Reaves addresses the idea of fighting Rangers enforcer Matt Rempe tonight

Do you think Ryan Reaves is the toughest enforcer in the NHL?

Yes, Reavo is the man23138.6 %
No, but he's up there33255.5 %
He's nowhere close to the toughest355.9 %
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