One of the main motives for keeping New York Rangers veteran Ryan Reaves in beast mode is winning an NHL title.
Known as one of the NHL's finest enforcers, Reaves remains determined to win the Stanley Cup, hockey's highest goal that he has eluded in his career. Reaves' best shot was perhaps a season ago when the Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the NHL Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.
"I think my biggest frustration after 13 years in the league is not having a Stanley Cup," Reaves said. "And that's the only thing I want - I want to win the Stanley Cup once, and yes, if you're eliminated, it might hurt a little more for guys my age. But you know, once Colorado [Avalanche] won, it was back to work and preparing for next year and trying again.”
At age 35 and entering his 14th season, Reaves attributes his longevity in the NHL to a recent shift in training emphasis from heavy lifting to more speed-based ice training. Reaves works out nearly every day, hitting the weight room and hitting the ice in the mornings while dedicating his afternoons to family and his newest side job – the beer entrepreneur.
Ryan Reaves, along with NFL Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, is among the growing list of athletes trying their hand at the beer business. "Drop the gloves, grab a beer," is the motto of his brand IG page, 7Five Brewing Co., which he co-owns with longtime friend Adam Coates.
The brand, named after his shirt number 75, was launched in 2019. To date, Reaves has been involved in the development of three different flavors: Dawn Breaker Lager, Training Day Golden Ale, Shiver Giver IPA, with a fourth - Grim Reaver Imperial Stout - in production.
When his schedule doesn't conflict with hockey duties, Ryan Reaves actively participates in the beer-making process, an activity he immediately took to. "The very first [Training Day] We started, I sat in this brewery where we brewed it, and with a copper coil we could kind of mix all those beer flavors. It took about three and a half hours which was a lot of fun and we got the recipe.”
While he's still in the league, the priority -- especially in the 2022-23 season -- remains winning an NHL title. Reaves shares with M&F some of the regimes that have made him one of the NHL's most trusted and feared enforcers, and how in 13 seasons he's grown into a mentor to his younger Ranger teammates.
And if he ever gets a chance to have the ceremonial drink, it would be nice to pour your own signature beer into the Stanley Cup.
"Hockey will always come first," says Reaves. "But this is like a little side act for something funny that I really enjoyed. And I'm really proud of how quickly we got everything done and to market. I want to see all this hard work die. So that's just a little motivation.”
Jared Silver/MSG Photos
Ryan Reaves is heading into next season
My age is one thing that makes me work smarter. The league is changing and I'm not the fastest on the ice - but I used to be slower. I learned that I had to train very differently to stay in the league back then because a lot of players like me were eliminated since the last lockout.
I was able to switch my training schedule to what I do on the ice. I didn't just go to the gym and bench press 300 pounds and get ready for the season just to fight all these big boys. w I had to train to keep up with the pace of this faster league.
w I do a lot more speed training - more jumps and sprints on the ice. I usually wear a weight vest on the ice and do a lot of fast feet, things I should have been doing a while ago. When I got into the league I was noticed because I fought so much and that was what kept me in the league back then. w I had to change myself and with it my training plan.
A hockey lesson that applies to life
When we went into the conference finals with St. Louis [in 2012], in the end I got scratched. I was miserable and just moping around in the locker room - I hadn't scratched myself all year and now I was in the conference finals. I was young at the time and didn't understand that the team still needed me to bring that positive energy.
But after scratching myself, I kind of sucked the energy out of the room. I remember my GM [Doug Armstrong] sat down and said, "look, we love you here, but you can't do that." He said [Coach Ken] Hitchcock kept me out of the dressing room because of my attitude, saying, "We're not selling you, but you can't do that."
When he said that, I thought, 'You know, you're absolutely right, I apologize fully. It will never happen again."
And last season, I got scratched in the playoffs. And unless you're a first or second line player, most players will go through this at some point. Some take it like me. This time I took it with a smile on my face.
I'm glad I learned that lesson early because I've seen people who probably should have been in this league longer but sometimes have a bad attitude and that will throw you out of the league very quickly. That was a big mistake on my part early in my career, but it was a great lesson that I carried with me for the rest of my career.
Jared Silver/MSG Photos
Ryan Reaves goes from NHL enforcer to mentor
Since I'm not a first, second or even third liner - I'm playing 10 minutes a night right now - you have to contribute in other ways. I like to bring energy to the team whenever I can. At the same time, in the last five or six years, younger guys have come up to me and voiced their problems, and we sit down and talk and try to solve the problem. If we can't find a solution, we'll find someone who can.
I'm very proud to help the younger guys, especially last season because we had such a young team. Young boys will have growing pains, good boys will be scratched or set on lines they think shouldn't be. I tell them they're young, they have to work their ass off and fight their way through. They will notice. As one of the elders, part of the job is to be a mentor.
Ryan Reaves' journey to becoming a brewmaster
Being my senior in St. Louis, I had just started getting into the craft beer scene this summer. I went to different bars and restaurants and asked for their local craft beer. And then I brewed a batch in St. Louis. It was a red IPA, which is actually the same recipe I have for my red IPA, Shiver Giver. But I did brew a batch with this guy who started a brewery in St. Louis. I got traded, I left St.Louis, he bought it for me, tasted it, said it was really good, asked if you could sell it at this bar. As the brewery sir, I said yes, no problem, and it ended up going really well.
And then I went to Pittsburgh - I was just there for a cup of coffee - and then got traded to Las Vegas. And when I was there, the city's craft beer scene was just taking off. So I jumped in since it was on the ground floor - partly because I was into craft beer, partly because I saw a business opportunity.
The future is now
I hope to play until 40 but that won't happen if I don't take care of my body. If I don't come to camp prepared and play well, I won't be able to keep up with the younger, faster players. So you know that in itself is motivation because I honestly don't know what I'm going to do after hockey. I'll probably stay in some capacity somewhere in hockey, but I still love playing and hanging out with the boys and going on outings. I haven't lost this love yet. And I still haven't won a Stanley Cup. So I still have a lot of motivation, a lot of struggle in me, and that's what keeps me going into the summer.