Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand and Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Ryan Reaves couldn’t even wait until warmups to start chirping each other ahead of the big Bruins-Leafs tilt in Toronto on Saturday night.
“He likes telling me he makes a lot more than I do,” Reaves replied following the Maple Leafs’ game-day skate Saturday morning when asked what Marchand usually says when he chirps him. “Doesn’t really bother me. A lot of players make a lot more than I do.”
Ryan Reaves, 36, is in the first year of a three-year, $4 million ($1.35M AAV) contract with the Maple Leafs and, as of Saturday, has earned $20.4 million over 14 seasons in the NHL. Marchand, 35, is in the seventh season of an eight-year, $49 million ($6.1M AAV) and has made $69.7 million in 14 seasons.
The pre-game chirping stems from Nov. 2 when the Boston Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 3-2 in a shootout and specifically Brad Marchand’s controversial play with Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren, who went on injured reserve with a lower-body injury the next day and hasn’t played since. There was no penalty called on what the Maple Leafs, their fans, and plenty of Toronto media thought was a slew-foot and, if not that, a dirty play.
The one player the Maple Leafs really have to answer the bell in a situation like that is Reaves, and while he did plenty of yapping from the bench and to the media the day after, there was no response from him or any Leafs players for a play they felt crossed the line.
“It’s just lucky I wasn’t on the ice with him,” Reaves said. “Unfortunately, they had last change, so I didn’t get any shifts against them. That’s hockey.”
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe didn’t hold back when asked about his thoughts on the lack of reaction from Reaves and the entire Leafs team.
“I hated everything about it, and I’ve addressed it. It’s not what we want to be about,” Keefe told reporters. “At times, we’ve responded very well in those situations in the past. It’s about consistency, though.”
Reaves was asked if there would be any kind of a response to Marchand, specifically on Saturday night.
“He’s not a guy that’s going to drop his gloves,” Reaves said. “He’ll try and bait you in and make you take something stupid. And their power play is dangerous, and I think that is where it thrives.”
When appraised of Reaves’ comments about him bragging about money in his chirps, Brad Marchand chirped right back.
“Yeah, I think I said that once. …a long time ago; sounds like he’s holding onto it,” Marchand replied with a wide grin. “yeah, but he’s one of those guys that brings physicality to their group, and he’s obviously made a great career out of it. But it seems like there’s always a good rivalry with this team. Usually, that stems from playing each other in the playoffs a few times, and both teams have been very good for a while, and it’s always a fun game to play.”
🎥 B's captain Brad Marchand meets with the media ahead of tonight's #NHLBruins matchup against the Maple Leafs in Toronto: "Both teams have been very good for a while so it's always a fun game to play." pic.twitter.com/m34YIH7TWs
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 2, 2023
The Boston bruins captain was then asked if he expected the Leafs to have any more emotion than usual on Saturday night.
“Not really. They’re usually a competitive team that plays fast; plays their game,” Marchand replied. “That’s one of those things that happens quick in the moment. I think their coach was being emotional and trying to get them to be there for one another and compete, and that’s what good teams do. But again, there wasn’t a response because it wasn’t a bad play. It’s just one of those things that happens fast in a game and you get tied up trying to battle for positioning on a puck, and things happen. So, that wasn’t a big deal, and they made it out to be something.
Unfortunately, when you allow that stuff to leak into the media outside of the room, it creates more drama than is necessary, and that’s kind of what happened in that situation, but they got a lot of guys who compete and work hard over there so again, we’re expecting a good competitive game just like every night against them.”