Ryan Reaves, fight
Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After signing a three-year contract in Toronto, Ryan Reaves discussed his vision for his role and contributions on and off the ice for the Maple Leafs.

With offers from multiple teams, what intrigued you most about the Maple Leafs?

Reaves: For me, Toronto got over that first-round hump last year. That was such a big weight off their shoulders. It was maybe a little overly emotional because it took so long to happen that maybe too many emotions ran into the second round.

To me, they are trending in the right direction. There is a lot of star power. They are a team that can win in the next couple of years. They can win this year and win in the next three years.

That was basically my decision. I wanted to go to a contender. I think Toronto is a contender.

The off-ice aspect is something Brad Treliving really heaped a lot of praise on. He said you don’t just have character but are a character with a lot of personality, and it is a pretty quiet room in Toronto. How do you think your personality is going to fit in with the players who have been here for a while?

Reaves: I don’t ever come into a locker room quiet or shy. I tend to come in and start chirping people right away to kind of get that over with.

For me, I don’t play a lot of minutes. I don’t score a ton of goals. A lot of what I do is the physical play and making sure guys feel safe on the ice, chirping, and getting in guys’ faces.

Off the ice, I take that very seriously. I like to plan the parties. I like getting the boys together on the road. I tend to drag everybody. If someone tends to not come to events sometimes, I tend to make sure everybody is there.

It is really important. The best teams I have been on are the teams where everybody is together all the time off the ice. The worst teams I have been on have been where there are little cliques who hang out together and you never really get the full room together.

I am not exactly sure what the locker room is like. I have heard it is quiet, but I don’t know if it is cliquey or whatever. If it is, we can address it. If not, I have heard it is a great locker room, so I think I am just going to make sure everybody is together all the time and drag guys into whatever we need to do to feel like a complete team.

What are your dad’s thoughts on coming to Toronto and playing on a Canadian team for the first time in the NHL considering all of his accomplishments in Winnipeg with the Bluebombers?

Reaves: He is excited. My dad doesn’t really care where I go, but I think he knows how much I want to win. When I called him and told him Toronto, he was excited. He knows the type of team they have there.

He was a legend in Winnipeg. Hopefully, I become a legend in Toronto. We will see, but that starts with winning a Cup. I think everybody will be a legend if we win a Cup there.

What do you like about the core of this team?

Reaves: When you have those guys on a team, you have a chance to win a Cup every year. Those are guys who can take over games and take over series very easily. As I said, they got over that hump last year. I think it was an emotional win for them. Now they know what it feels like to win. They got a taste of it. We are going to start buzzing now.

That is what went into my decision-making coming there. I just like how this team is built. There is a lot of star power that can take you places.

Do you have a relationship or know any of the guys currently on the team?

Reaves: I don’t. I’ve known Klingberg for the last three and a half or four months from when he got traded [to Minnesota] for the playoffs. Other than that,I don’t think I know anybody else on the team.

What were your impressions of John Klingberg in your short time with him?

Reaves: I thought he was great. He got up and down the ice very well. I thought he was a guy who can break out the puck by himself very well. He brings the puck up into the offensive zone. If there is a turnover, he skates so well that he can get back to support the other defenseman.

He is a guy who gets up and down the ice very well. He is very good on the power play. He holds in the puck and drags it across the blue line very well. He can really power play it up there. He is going to be good for the power play and the D core.

Those are my impressions from the two or three months I played with him.

Is it true you are working with the same skating coach as Auston Matthews?

Reaves: The New York Rangers’ skating coach lives in Arizona. I think he skates with Auston sometimes. Right now, I usually skate with the guys in Vegas, but they obviously won the Cup. They were playing pretty late, so I doubt they are going to be on the ice as early as I want to be. I might have to get down there.

I still don’t have a full plan for it, but I might have to get down there just to get on the ice with him.

What have you done to keep your skating stride up to snuff as you have gotten more experience in the league?

Reaves: I am not going to the gym and just throwing around 120-150 pound dumbbells anymore. Back when I came into the league, I was doing a lot more of that because every night, I had a chance of fighting these 6’5 guys that I needed to be strong for. When I came into the league, that was more my role. I was there to fight and hit. I wasn’t there for a lot of offense. It was a different NHL when I came into the league.

Now, I am definitely a little smaller. I work a lot more on my footspeed. I do a lot more weighted vest stuff — a lot more jumps, a lot more sprints on the ice, sprints with the weights on my ankles, and a lot more turf work. I am tailoring my training more toward speed. I am a big guy and I am not the fastest guy in the league, but I have gotten much faster over the years just because of the change to my style of training.

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