This is the next in a series of stories ranking the 24 most important players on the 2011-12 St. Louis Blues.
If it weren't for the fragility of the scapula (the shoulder blade to me and you) of one B.J. Crombeen (Brandon to his mother), Ryan Reaves might not have made the opening night roster for the Blues or our illustrious countdown of the most 24 important players this season. One man's broken shoulder is another's NHL game...to spend in the press box.
Last season Reaves played 28 games with the Blues and totaled two goals and two assists. Even though he played just one-third of the season, Reaves was fourth on the team in penalty minutes with 78 and third on the team in major penalties with eight. But you have to remember, the team leader in penalties and majors last year was Crombeen and the guy in second was Cam Janssen who was not re-signed this summer. So that poses an interesting question: What role could Reaves play this season?
In his favor, Reaves has decent size (at least compared to the midget Janssen) at 6 feet, 1 inch and 225 pounds. And he sure appears fearless. He had three fights in the preseason, kind of a "Hey coach! Put me on the team!" But you have to wonder what role a fighter has on this team long term. They traded D.J. King a year ago for a minor league pest. They were clearly moving on from Janssen at the end of last season and didn't appear to even open up contract negotiations. And Reaves wasn't exactly talked about as a lock to make the team until Crombeen got hurt in the final exhibition game. If you were to ask Davis Payne if he would prefer a healthy Crombeen or Reaves, he's voting in favor of BJ.
At this time in the NHL when head injuries are at the top of many minds and new discipline czar Brendan Shanahanis making new videos explaining suspensions almost every day, it sure seems like the role of the tough guy is under fire. But Reaves may get a chance if he can show he can do more than punch a guy with his fists.
First of all, the Blues are looking for speed. King when he came back from a bad hand injury just seemed much too slow to compete in the NHL. You can't body check what you can't catch on the ice. And no player on the roster should be afraid of the puck like it's going to explode after someone pulled the pin like Janssen.
If Reaves can provide a physical presence and do some work screening opposing goaltenders he may see the ice 10 minutes a night. Maybe. Until then, he is the 23rd most important player on the Blues.
It could be worse. Reaves could be Chris Porter, a player we give so little respect to, we didn't even include in this 24-man series.