The biggest, baddest man in the NHL is Ryan Reaves.
In the second period of Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, the Golden Knights’ forward was deployed by his head coach, Gerard Gallant, to deliver a message to Jets forward Adam Lowry — that his hit on Alex Tuch was not appreciated.
A decision driven by emotion, as the hit was clean, not penalized, with no further review by the league. But for Gallant, what he saw was his player in just his second game of the season after being injured in training camp, heading down the hallway for concussion testing.
With that, enter Reaves off the bench, to line up at the face off circle against Lowry.
The officials had a brief discussion as they knew what was about to take place, but Reaves shrugged his shoulders and Lowry stood in and nodded his head – drop the puck, ding the bell, its go time.
A “staged” fight ensued between the two.
At 6’5, 210 pounds, Lowry is no shrinking violet, but that doesn’t mean you want to go head-to-head with the league’s toughest test.
To stand in means to stand up! Lowry did just that and by doing so he set the tone for a team that is still developing its identity.
From that moment in the game, the Jets played a better brand of hockey and came from behind to win. That victory, that moment, is a base to build on.
As the season plays out, I expect the coaches and players will reference Lowry’s landmark moment as a watershed one for this Jets team. Proving a past practice still has a place in the present day game.
Leah Hextall has been an on-air presence for the largest networks in North America: ESPN, Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada. Follow her on Twitter @leahhextall.