Ryan Reaves believes he can help give the Maple Leafs the grit they’re missing.

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Ryan Reaves has yet to get behind the wheel of a blue and white bumper car, but he’s already noticing out-of-town license plates.

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The Maple Leafs’ new bouncer had already vowed to liven up their “quiet” locker room, reiterating Monday that he signed here to change the narrative that they are too soft in the playoffs.

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He knew the painful image from the end of the season last spring, when Florida’s bearded giant Radko Gudas looked gleefully into the face of goalkeeper Joseph Woll.

“I hope he tries,” Reaves joked at the Leafs’ annual charity golf outing in Milton. “That would be interesting, that would be fun.

“I doubt there would be anything like that here.”

The Leafs had apparently counteracted the toughness of the Cup tournament with last year’s signings of defenseman Luke Schenn and center Ryan O’Reilly. They beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, but NHL batting leader Schenn didn’t stay, nor did O’Reilly, in part for family reasons. Hardy strikers Noel Acciari and Zach Aston-Reese also left and Wayne Simmonds was not re-signed.

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Enter Reaves, who was born in Winnipeg and is already a bit long in the tooth at 36, but who scored 196 goals last season for the Rangers and Wild, his fourth and fifth NHL teams. Freshmen Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi are also physically solid and can score.

“Perhaps something the Leafs have lacked in recent years is courage,” Reaves noted. “I think these guys fit exactly what we need here.”

It remains to be seen how much ice time Reaves gets on the right side, especially in the playoffs when the struggles subside and the bottom six forwards are either fast or excel at two-way hockey. Reaves, who is training with some former teammates from the champion Vegas Golden Knights over the summer, wants to help end the 57-year Cup drought in any way he can.

“That’s why I came here,” he said. “Look at this team from last year and the last few years in the regular season. It’s just a matter of time and I want to be here when it happens.

“I was on good and bad teams for about 14 years and played in a number of conference finals and a cup final. I know what’s important.

“I come into (a room) pretty hot and tend to chirp people straight away. I’m not shy.

“It’s a tight group here. We traveled a lot with many of them, played golf and drank a few beers. Everyone likes spending time together, so this is definitely a good start.”


https://torontosun.com/sports/ryan-reaves-believes-he-can-help-bring-maple-leafs-missing-grit Ryan Reaves believes he can help give the Maple Leafs the grit they’re missing.


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