Evander Holyfield

Trash talk between Reaves, Kane almost as good as their fight

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Evander Kane was named after Evander Holyfield, but there’s a touch of Muhammad Ali to his trash talk with Ryan Reaves.

The two engaged in a positively terrifying fight during the Golden Knights’ 6-3 win against the Sharks in Game 3, after heated exchanges that Pierre McGuire described as minutes-long bits of almost certainly NSFW banter. While the material there is too “blue” for our innocent eyes and ears, the two weren’t shy about making their disdain public. From the sound of things, Game 3 might not be the last time they drop the gloves during this Round 1 series, whether the next bout happens in Game 4 (Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; Live stream) or later.

On Monday, Reaves was asked if he gained respect for Evander Kane after that fight, and the answer seemed to be “not a ton.”

“Yeah I guess a little bit but not really a lot to be honest,” Reaves said, via Sin Bin Vegas. “I’m not really ever going to respect that guy.”

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Reaves went on to take a shot at Joe Thornton regarding Thornton’s suspension following a hit on Tomas Nosek, referring to Jumbo Joe as “grandpa” and joking that Thornton will have trouble seeing from the press box. Kane apparently heard about those comments, and they became a part of a multi-part takedown of Reaves. Shen Peng of Fear the Fin captured the trash talking glory of it all:

As you can see from that smorgasboard of smack talk, Kane made the following remarks:

  • That Kane was unharmed from the fight, and that he “expected more of a battle,” comparing fighting Reaves to fighting “The Muffin Man.” (Not totally sure what Kane is referencing, so here’s hoping it was this. Either way, that song has traveled back from my childhood and is now firmly planted in my head.)
  • Kane says that Reaves speaks as if he’s in WWE, and uses that as a way to throw a barb at Reaves as a player, wondering if Reaves might become a professional wrestler soon. Request: if Reaves does, can his gimmick be “The Muffin Experience?”
  • Most succinctly, Kane said “Nobody thinks of Ryan Reaves as a hockey player.”

Harsh.

As we saw with the Alex Ovechkin – Andrei Svechnikov fight, it’s easy to forget about what are often scary consequences to these fights. While both Reaves and Kane are more seasoned in that regard, there’s also even greater size and fighting experience involved, only making potential bouts more dangerous.

From the Sharks’ perspective, you also have to wonder if Reaves is accomplishing a lot by getting Kane off of his game. This feud isn’t just a distraction; Kane (and the Sharks) must be aware that any fight would mean taking Kane – who had 30 goals and 56 points during the regular season – off the ice for five minutes or more. Even those who believe that Reaves brings more than fisticuffs to the table would probably agree that such a tradeoff would be a huge win for the Golden Knights. The same could be said if both players were injured in a fight.

For fans of “old time hockey,” this is a rare treat, and there’s no denying the spectacle. The Sharks risk giving the Golden Knights an edge if Kane gets swept up in all of it at the wrong time, though. Kane fighting Reaves in a blowout was one thing, but tensions boiling over at the wrong time could end up hurting San Jose.

Then again, maybe an angry Kane might produce some big points with all of that extra motivation? We’ll see.

Golden Knights – Sharks Game 4 from T-Mobile Arena will be Tuesday night at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. (Live stream)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.