In case you missed last night’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on CBC between the Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights, you missed another classic Don Cherry rant.
It’s no secret that the man they call Grapes is a big fan of the rough stuff, so it makes sense that he’d be a big fan of Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves. The former Pittsburgh Penguins enforcer was part of the three way deal that saw center Derick Brassard end up getting traded to Pittsburgh by the Ottawa Senators, with Reaves getting shipped to Vegas in a complicated deal.
Since the trade, Reaves has suited up for 23 games in Vegas, just two in the playoffs, and has been an absolute physical force when called upon. If you need any proof, just check out this hit that he threw on Jets captain Blake Wheeler last night:
Look out! That takes some serious muscle… Wheeler is no small opponent at 6”5’, 225 pounds! Do stuff like this and you’re bound to make a fan out of Grapes!
It should be no surprise then when discussing the downfall of the Penguins during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, that Cherry puts the blame solely on Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. After all, it was Rutherford who traded away Reaves, significantly weakening his team’s leadership and toughness.
“The big mistake Pittsburgh made and the reason why they’re not going anywhere in the playoffs is because Reaves is gone,” said Cherry last night.
“Crosby for three quarters of the season, nothing happened to happened to Crosby. As soon as they got rid of Reaves, BANGO, you saw what happened to Crosby…”
Maybe so, but ironically, Reaves didn’t have much success in throwing his weight around last night in Vegas’ 4-2 series opening loss. Sure he laid the big hit on Wheeler and he managed to get into Dustin Byfuglien’s face a bit, but the Jets star players like Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine managed to shrug off Reaves pretty easily all night long.
If Vegas is going to get back into this thing and extend their season beyond Pittsburgh’s they’ll either need Reaves out there getting under people’s skin, or they’ll need to dress a bonafide offensive producer in his place. It’ll be interesting to see the adjustments that head coach Gerard Gallant makes for Monday’s pivotal Game 2.
For Grapes' full Coach's Corner segment, watch the video below: