NHL Veteran Ryan Reaves Living the Life of Hockey Enforcer and Beer Developer

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One of the prime motivators keeping New York Rangers veteran Ryan Reaves in beast mode is winning an NHL title.

Known as one of the NHL’s top enforcers, Reaves remains locked in at hoisting the Stanley Cup, hockey’s pinnacle goal that has so far eluded him in his career. Reaves’ best shot may have come a season ago, as the Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the NHL Eastern Conference Finals only to lose in six games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I think for me, not having a Stanley Cup is one thing that frustrates me the most after being in the league for 13 years,” Reaves says. “And that’s the one thing I want — I want to lift the Stanley Cup one time and so yeah, when you get eliminated hurts maybe a little extra for guys at my age. But, you know, once Colorado [Avalanche] won, it was back to work and get ready for next year and take a run for it again.”

At age 35 and entering his 14th season, Reaves attributes his NHL longevity on a recent shift in training focus from heavy lifting to more speed based on-ice training. Reaves trains almost daily, hitting the weightroom and ice in the morning, while keeping his afternoons dedicated to family and his most recent side hustle — beer entrepreneur.

Ryan Reaves, like NFL Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, is among the growing list of athletes taking a try 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 jersey number, 75, launched in 2019. So far Reaves has helped develop three distinct 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 responsibilities, Ryan Reaves actively participates in the beer making process, an activity he immediately took a liking to. “The very first one [Training Day] we launched, I sat in this brewery where we brewed it, and with a copper coil, we were able to kind of blend all these flavors of beers. 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 going into this 2022-23 season — remains winning an NHL title. Reaves shares with M&F some of the regimen that’s kept him as one of the NHL’s most reliable and feared enforces as well as how 13 seasons have helped him evolve into a mentor for his younger Ranger teammates.

And if he ever gets that opportunity to take the ceremonial drink, it would be nice to pour you own signature beer poured into the Stanley Cup.

“Hockey is always going to come first,” Reaves says. “But this is just like a little side gig of something fun that I really enjoyed doing. And I’m really proud of how quickly we were able to get everything done and out in the market. I want to see all that hard work die. So that’s just a little motivation.”

Jared Silber/MSG Photos

Ryan Reaves Is Skating Toward the Next Season

My age is one thing that that makes me have to work smarter. The league is changing, and I’m not the fastest guy on ice — but I used to be even slower back in the day. I’ve learned that I have to train much differently just to stay in the league at the time because, since the last lockout a lot of players like me ended up getting pushed out.

I was able to change my training schedule to what I was doing on ice. I wasn’t just going to the gym and bench-pressing 300 pounds and getting ready for the season just to fight all these big guys. Now I had to train to keep up with the pace of this faster league.

Now I’m doing a lot more speed training — more jumps and sprints on the ice. I’ll usually wear a weighted vest on the ice and do a lot of quick-feet stuff, things I should’ve done a while ago. When I came into the league, I was noticed because I was fighting so much, and at the time that was going to keep me in the league. Now I’ve had to change, and with that, so has my training schedule has had to adapt.

A Hockey Lesson That Applies to Life

When we went to the conference finals with St. Louis [in 2012], I ended up getting scratched. I was miserable and just moping around the locker room — I hadn’t been scratched 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 around bring that positive energy.

But after getting scratched, I kind of sucked the energy out of the room. I remember my GM [Doug Armstrong] sat me down, and was like, “Look, we love you here, but you can’t do that.” He said [Coach Ken] Hitchcock was keeping me away from the locker room because of my attitude, and he was like, “We’re not trading you away, but you can’t be doing that.”

Right when he said that, I was like, “You know, you’re absolutely right, I fully apologize. It’ll never happen again.”

And this past season, I got scratched in the playoffs. And if you’re not a first or second line player, most players are going to go through this at one point. Some of them take it the way I did. I took it this time with a smile on my face.

I’m glad I learned that lesson early because I’ve seen guys who probably should’ve been in this league longer, but sometimes carry a bad attitude, and that will get you kicked out of the league really quickly. That was a big mistake on my part early in my career, but it was a big learning lesson I’ve taken with me for the rest of my career.

Jared Silber/MSG Photos

Ryan Reaves Goes From NHL Enforcer to Mentor

Because I’m not a first, second, or even a third liner — I play 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 over the last five or six years younger guys have come up to me and express their problems, and we’ll sit down and talk and try to solve the problem. If we can’t figure a solution, we’ll find someone who can.

I take a lot of pride in trying to help the younger guys, especially last season because we had such a young team. Young guys are gonna go through growing pains, good guys are gonna get scratched or be put on lines they don’t think they should be on. I tell them that they’re young they have to work their ass off and battle their way through this. That will get them noticed. As one of the oldest guys on them, being a mentor comes with the job.

Ryan Reaves’ Path To Brewmaster

When I was in my last year in St. Louis, I had just started kind of getting into like the craft beer scene that summer. I was going out to different bars and restaurants and asking 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 that that I have for my red IPA, Shiver Giver. But I brewed a batch with this guy who was opening 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. Sir as brewery I said, Yeah, no problem and ended up doing really well.

And then I went to Pittsburgh —I was only there for, a cup of coffee — then got traded to Las Vegas. And when I was there, the city’s craft beer scene was just taking off. So I jumped into it as it was just on the ground floor — partly because I was into craft beer and partly because I saw a business opportunity.

The Future is Now

I hope I can play till I’m 40, but that’s not going to happen if I don’t take care of my body. If I don’t come to camp prepared and play well then I’m not going to 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 gonna do after hockey. I probably stay somewhere in hockey in some capacity, but I still love playing and hanging with the boys and going on road trips. I haven’t lost that love yet. And I still haven’t won a Stanley Cup. So I still have a lot of motivation, a lot of battle in me, and that’s what’s keeping me going into the summer.

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