Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 4/28/13
ST. LOUIS Ryan Reaves clenched his fists and skated backward toward the middle of the ice. Here, at center stage, he would give them what they are always asking for, what they say he avoids too often. The opponent was Paul Bissonnette. A shove from the Phoenix Coyote left wing had turned into trash talk, which turned into discarded hockey sticks, thrown gloves and pushed-up jersey sleeves. Frenzied fans at the Scottrade Center stood and screamed, thrilled for a chance to watch Reaves fight. "They're throwing them," a TV announcer said as the two squared off. "Reaves is tough," his partner added. "He throws bombs!" When he decides to throw them, that is. Search for his name on Twitter, and you'll see the things people say about Reaves. They say he should drop his gloves more often. Then, when he does fight, they mention all the times he didn't. "I know fans always like to see that kind of stuff," Reaves said. "I'm sure sometimes they're frustrated. But I have a job to do. They're the fans. I'm the player." The 6-foot-1, 224-pound right wing is now in his third NHL season. He's the St. Louis enforcer, a player tasked with protecting his teammates when there is perceived wrongdoing on the ice. But that doesn't mean he goes out of his way to start trouble. As much as it frustrates fight-crazed fans, Reaves with the approval and encouragement of Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has been avoiding unnecessary fights as he tries to become a more-complete player. "Sometimes its not the time," Reaves said of passing up certain opportunities to brawl. "Sometimes, the coaching staff doesnt think its the time. Ill always be there to stick up for the guys if need be. But, Ive tried to get away from those kind of staged, fight-for-no-reason kind of things. According to hockeyfights.com, Reaves' seven fights during this shortened season place him in a 10-way tie for 15th-most in the NHL. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing B.J. Crombeen, the league leader, has fought twice as often. Reaves has fought less this season than last. In 2011-12, his 13 fights tied for 11th-most in NHL regular season. The year before that his first in the NHL he fought eight times in 28 games. As Reaves' number of fights have declined, areas of his game have improved. This season, his average time on ice has increased by almost a minute, his shooting percentage has jumped from 9.4 to 16.7 and he has scored a career-high four goals. Still, some fans would trade that progress for more fisticuffs. And that irks Hitchcock. "He Reaves doesnt do the things that some people want him to do, which I quite frankly think is a waste of time, unless its a retaliation to something gone bad, or kind of regulating whats going on on the ice," Hitchcock said. "He does that fine. But the other stuff, the sideshow part, I dont want him to participate in that." "By being able to focus on being a hockey player, and playing the game the right way, he has a way bigger impact on the outcome," the coach added. "That's what we want him to do. He's not a fourth-line player. He's a third-line player that started his career on the fourth line." The night Phoenix was in town, it took Reaves 10 seconds to turn Bissonnette, the recipient of five rights to the face and one well-timed hip toss, into a crumpled pile on the ice. Reaves flexed and celebrated before entering the penalty box. Bissonnette got to his feet and shook his head. The electricity lingered. "Who is your favorite player?" a woman on the Scottrade Center JumboTron asked a youth hockey player later that evening. "Reaves," the boy said to the crowd of 17,205. "Why?" she asked. "Because he gets into a lot of fights!" he said. Right or wrong, plenty would like to see some more. You can follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred) and contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Browns LB Armonty Bryant indicted on felony drug charge

Report: Danny Ainge 'excited' at chance to add Al Horford

Pat Haden collapsed on USC campus

Colts on Andrew Luck contract: ‘It’s going to be a shocking number’

GW basketball coach kicked out of daughter’s HS game

A-Rod is (inadvertently) hurting the Yankees

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: CM Punk to have back surgery, UFC debut delayed

John Elway: 2015 Broncos could be best defense ever

Lakers and Cavs discussed Kobe-LeBron trade in 2007

Report: Hiring Scott Brooks could help Knicks land Durant

Report: Tyreke Evans to undergo surgery, miss rest of season

Sabathia on post-rehab health: The best I've felt in three years

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

Terrell Owens says Cris Carter 'begged his way' into HOF

QUIZ: Name every WWE Heavyweight Champion

Three NHL players who can cement their legacies like Peyton Manning

Top 11 story lines for the 2016 NFL offseason

Vince Carter: I’ll know when, but I’m not ready to retire

Bill Polian: Peyton Manning could 'immediately' be successful GM

Villanova Wildcats: The quietest No. 1 team ever

Craig Sager: From the brink of death to the NBA All-Star Game

Michael Oher slid backwards during play in Super Bowl 50

Magic interested in Blake Griffin trade?

Brandon Marshall on Newton’s presser: ‘You can’t do that’

Oscillation, thy name is Pablo Sandoval

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker