Maple Leafs’ Ryan Reaves on fight with Matt Rempe: ‘He’s definitely the longest guy I’ve ever fought”

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Ellis
1 month ago
At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds – and muscles like a tree trunk – you can’t call Ryan Reaves a small dude.
But going up against 6-foot-8 Matt Rempe? Puny. Miniscule.
All eyes were on the 37-year-old winger on Saturday night, with just about everyone expecting Reaves to drop the glove with the newest New York Rangers forward. Rempe has built a reputation for fighting just about everyone, while many in Leafs Nation were hoping to see more from the Toronto vet with just three fights to his credit this season.

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The pair played just a few shifts against each other and even looked ready to go at it midway through the first period.
“I feel like the media hypes up so much that it was, you know, the first period, it was almost like,let’s just get it out of the way,” Reaves said Monday morning.And then he said no, which is completely fine.”
But with about six minutes to go in Toronto’s shootout victory, they finally decided to get it done.
It was the most anticipated moment of the week, sending Scotiabank Arena into a frenzy we haven’t seen in quite some time. It wasn’t the world’s most enthralling bout, but it jazzed the fans.
“I thought that was an appropriate time to ask,” Reaves said about the timing of the fight. “Good on him for doing it. He’s a big boy.”
Reaves called Rempe the biggest player he has ever fought in his career. He’s no stranger to taking on NHL heavyweights, but never once did take on the NHL’s human skyscraper, Zdeno Chara. He did take on 6-foot-8 monster John Scott back in 2012, with Scott taking the victory.
But that was over a decade ago. After fighting players closer to his own frame this year, Reaves faced an all-new challenge with Rempe.
“He’s definitely the longest I’ve ever fought, for sure,” Reaves said. “He’s just really lanky.”
How did Reaves deal with the height difference?
“At the beginning of the fight, I didn’t throw a lot because I had to make sure I was holding him where I wanted to, make sure I positioned him in the right spot,” Reaves said, sporting a bruised eye. “At first, he had me strung out a little. So I had to be a bit patient, get his grip off of that. Once I was comfortable, I started throwing punches.”
The Hockey Fights fan vote has Rempe being the winner by just a handful of votes. Rempe had the advantage early, but once Reaves got his mojo, he landed a few nice blows before the end. The fight ended with both smiling on the way to the penalty box, with neither player going down.
“He’s a nice kid, he talked about how the media pumped it up so much (in the penalty box),” Reaves said. “Two Original Six teams going at it, everybody’s talking about a fight. It was cool to see because it shows fighting isn’t dead in the sport, and people still kind of get amped up for it.”
The pair have a 16-year age gap, with Rempe being just three years old when the St. Louis Blues selected Reaves in 2005. But with just seven NHL games played, Rempe has already made an impact with four fights, including bouts with Matt Martin, Nic Deslauriers and Mathieu Olivier. He has proven he’s not afraid to take on anyone in an attempt to stay in the league.
“He’s going to be a menace in this league,” Reaves said, with a smirk.

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