No fight involving Ryan Reaves is one that you can skip, but Sunday night’s bout was must-watch for another reason entirely.
Not even three minutes into the first period of a game against the Arizona Coyotes, the Minnesota Wild bruiser stepped up to answer the call after Boko Imama prodded him into dropping the gloves. What followed was perhaps the most boring fight ever seen in the NHL.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 13, 2023
There was a full 28 seconds between both players dropping their gloves and someone actually making any physical contact or effort to fight. More downtime passed before Imama went for a giant throwing punch and ended up with his head in Reaves’s lap.
A little headlock later, and the officials decided to separate the two. What a letdown.
Reaves is the veteran here. In his 814-game NHL career, he has a total of 83 recorded fights, according to HockeyFights.com, while this was just Imama’s third top-division bout in his handful of NHL games.
After that display of calm fisticuffs, Wild forward Marcus Foligno decided to give the Mullett Arena crowd something to actually cheer about. Less than 90 seconds after the Reaves non-fight, Foligno danced with familiar partner Liam O’Brien and got the better of him.
After that spirited tilt, Wild youngster Mason Shaw got in on the action and made it three fights in the first 25 minutes of the game.
In what can only be described as a rarity, Reaves was all over the stat sheet in this one. He tallied his second goal of the season later in the first period before picking up an assist on Connor Dewar's second-period marker. Despite the big night from Reaves, Minnesota fell to Arizona 5-4 in overtime.
With a goal, an assist and a "fight" on his ledger, Reaves pulled off the Gordie Howe hat trick for what he believes is the first time in his career — at any level.
Ryan Reaves on last time he had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick: "High school? No, you can't fight in high school. I don't know that I've ever had one." #mnwild
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithNHL) March 13, 2023
“High school?” Reaves said, per The Athletic's Joe Smith. “No, you can’t fight in high school. I don’t know if I ever had one.”
He might not get to lift the Stanley Cup or score 30 goals in a season, but the 36-year-old winger was able to hit one milestone in the twilight years of his career, even if the fight shouldn't really count.