It was one blown kiss sent in the direction of the Dallas Stars bench near the end of Game 3, but the gesture by St. Louis Blues winger Ryan Reaves has taken on a life of it own.
Reaves executed a kiss-blowing motion after he executed a fairly one-sided smackdown of Stars player Curtis McKenzie. The two emerged from a scrum that began after Reaves tried to come to the aid of teammate Alex Pietrangelo following a hard hit into the boards by Dallas’ Stephen Johns.
“I think the players note that, yeah, I think they do,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said on Wednesday. “Our guys were embarrassed and that’s the stuff you take to heart. That’s stuff you use. We’re a proud team.”
Did the Stars really need extra motivation other than being down 2-1 in a second-round playoff series before Thursday and coming off a 6-1 loss to the Blues in Game 3?
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Reaves, surprised at how much attention his kiss has received, said he was simply sticking up for a teammate.
“Yeah, I thought Johns’ hit was a little dangerous,” Reaves said. “Saw his gloves were kind of glued on. Then McKenzie grabbed Steener (Blues forward Alexander Steen) and kind of had him in a weird spot. End of the game, I can’t let a fourth-line guy grab one of our top guys, so I had to make sure that I stepped in there.”
Reaves stepped in, but was hoping to go after Johns instead of McKenzie. Why wouldn’t Johns fight?
“That’s a question for him. I don’t know,” Reaves said. “I just told him it’s a gutless shot at the end of the game. It’s playoffs, obviously he’s trying to finish his check, but still a pretty dangerous hit.”
Asked about Reaves’ comments following the morning skate on Thursday, Johns wasn’t biting.
“I don’t really care what he has to say,” he said. “I’m just out there playing my game. I didn’t think it was a dirty hit; was just trying to go for the puck. Wasn’t like I was targeting a guy from behind … he happened to go into the boards in a weird way.
“I’m not going to focus on anyone’s comments. Just go out and play my game. It doesn’t faze me.”
Reaves said the kiss wasn’t exactly a premeditated act.
“Just a heat of the moment kind of thing,” he said. “A lot of chirping back and forth all game. The way the game ended, it just came out.”
Had he ever done that before?
“I’ve never blown one,” he said. “I’ve definitely given a little ‘kiss lips’ before but never blown one.”’
Reaves was at it again in Game 4, leveling Dallas’ Brett Ritchie with a big hit in the first period.
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk didn’t feel Reaves’ actions deserved all the attention they are receiving.
“There are always moments in the game that you can use as sources of inspiration,” Shattenkirk said. “Reaver does that in Game 42 and he’ll do it in the playoffs, nothing changes for him. I think he’s just trying to kind of establish his presence out there and he’s done it in the last few games.
“Not just through fighting, but through pressuring the puck and making them feel uncomfortable on the back end. We don’t really harp on him for doing anything like that. We don’t feel like it hurts us any more than it kind of empowers them.”
Almost as funny as Reaves’ blown kiss toward the Stars was Shattenkirk trying to re-create the moment on the bench for teammate Jaden Schwartz. Shattenkirk can be seen on videos demonstrating Reaves’ blown kiss to Schwartz.
“I tried to do my best Reaves impersonation — except I usually don’t have the start where I finish a guy off in a fight and have the opportunity to blow a kiss,” said Shattenkirk, who didn’t immediately realize his blown kiss had been caught on video, too.
“I didn’t even know until after the game,” he said. “Someone mentioned it was on the Jumbotron (scoreboard) and then there were a few videos on Twitter and a few sent to my phone of me kind of showing Jaden what was going on.”
Blues donating to Fort McMurray wildfire victims
The Blues announced they are donating proceeds from their game-day 50/50 raffle during Thursday’s game to support victims of the wildfires currently burning through the area around Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. The NHL announced on Thursday it was donating $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross relief effort.
Fort McMurray, which has a population of 80,000, is the hometown of Blues forward Scottie Upshall and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock also has ties to the region. Blues rookie Colton Parayko played junior hockey in Fort McMurray from 2010-12.
Updated reports Thursday said an area of 328 square miles had already been scorched by the wildfires. More than 88,000 people have been evacuated and more than 1,600 homes and buildings have been destroyed.
“I saw the freeway that I used to usually drive in from the airport and both sides of the roads were kind of just 100-foot flames,” Upshall said. “I saw a couple restaurants that I used to go eat at and those were gone. And it’s crazy.
“(I’m) thankful for all the supporters there that are doing their thing and everyone who’s still there who’s trying to get out or looking for places to stay, we hope everyone has a helping hand and we’ll be able to support them and do what we can from here. I’m sure we’ll all get together here nationally and help them out.”
Upshall said his family back home is OK, but he’s been getting messages from all over.
“Everyone last night kind of sent their thoughts and their prayers,” he said Wednesday. It’s tough when it becomes national and global news for a city of 80,000 people. It’s pretty upsetting. But the good thing is it’ll get, the city will get through it. I’m sure they’ll get more help and get these fires under control.”