Ryan Reaves pumped his arms overhead in celebration as the crowd that gathered inside Xcel Energy Center for a Saturday morning Wild practice cheered.
After eluding Marc-Andre Fleury with a deceptive wind-up to score a goal, Reaves deked repeatedly before unleashing a rising shot and scoring again. Then he snapped the puck into the back of the net, winning the Wild's shootout drill with three goals off three different moves.
"New guy on the team," said Fleury, who gave up two of the three goals. "Trying to make him feel good."
In the few days since the Wild acquired him in a trade from the Rangers to boost their size and spunk, Reaves has settled in as advertised.
He didn't look out of place alongside Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno in his first game Friday, applying pressure on the forecheck and finishing his checks in a 4-3 loss to Toronto at Xcel Energy Center. The next morning, the winger's exuberance at practice livened the session.
But the Wild aren't the only ones to benefit from this deal.
Reaves is also eager for a fresh start, the next opportunity for a player who's had a knack for acclimating to new circumstances.
"I don't take any day for granted," Reaves said. "I've played longer than even I thought I probably would. I know careers don't last long and being 35, it's coming to an end — hopefully not too soon.
"You've got to enjoy every day."
Growing up in Winnipeg, Reaves was on the ice and the gridiron.
His dad, Willard Reaves, was a running back for the CFL's Blue Bombers, getting named the league's most outstanding player in 1984 before stints in the NFL with Washington and Miami.
"He's a legend in Winnipeg," Reaves said.
Although he "probably was a little better at football," Ryan Reaves chose hockey after he tore his posterior cruciate ligament and was told to pick between the two sports.
"I wasn't willing to sit both sports out for a year," he said. "So football was done."
After junior hockey, Reaves began his pro career as a 2005 fifth-round draft pick by St. Louis and his game eventually changed.
Reaves heard, "If you want to make the NHL, you're going to have to fight."
Although he didn't scrap much in juniors, Reaves adapted.
"I went home and took boxing lessons, and the next year basically fought everything that moved," he said.
During 2010-11, Reaves graduated to the Blues, but he wasn't done modifying his approach.
"You saw a lot of the guys that played three minutes and ran around asking guys to fight, a lot of those guys got pushed out of the league," Reaves recalled. "So I didn't have to sit in the gym and be as strong as possible getting ready for those guys. I could work on my quickness and a little more skill."
St. Louis traded him to Pittsburgh during the 2017 offseason and then Vegas landed him a year later during its inaugural season, and that's where Reaves thrived in the niche he created for himself as a rugged checker. He had a career-high nine goals, 11 assists and 20 points in 2018-19.
"I wasn't a fighter, and I turned into a fighter when I was younger," he said. "Then the game got faster, and I stopped fighting as much and tried to keep up with those young guys."
This role is still in demand.
New York traded for Reaves in 2021, and he was a regular for the Rangers before becoming a frequent healthy scratch earlier this month; the Wild brought him in Wednesday for a 2025 fifth-round draft pick.
Since his NHL debut, Reaves ranks third in hits (2,649) and sixth in penalty minutes (994) among active players.
"As long as I'm getting in on the forecheck, arriving on hits, taking care of the D-zone, creating some chaos, sticking up for teammates when I have to, that's when I'm effective," said Reaves, who also has 54 goals and 60 assists for 114 points in 768 career games.
Along the way, there have been highlights, like scoring the winning goal in Winnipeg that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018.
But he hasn't been crowned a champion, and that's what keeps him motivated.
"That's what I hope to do this year," Reaves said.
Without his willingness to evolve, he might not have that chance.
"It's not an easy league to stay in for a player like me that plays my style," Reaves said. "Thirteen years is a long time. There's a lot of miles on this body and a lot of adjustments I've had to make. I take a lot of pride in it."