Was Ryan Reaves Autographing Tom Wilson Injury Photo Going Too Far?

On Tuesday, Las Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves hit Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson with a blindside hit. Reaves was ejected from the game, and Wilson also left the game with a concussion. Fan response ran the usual gamut, from lauding Reaves for giving Wilson a taste of his own medicine, to demonizing Reaves for making what many would consider a dirty hit (while, presumably, not understanding what “irony” means).

Two days later, Inscriptagraphs, a sports memorabilia store based in Las Vegas that specializes in autographed items, was selling 16″ x 20″ photos of Reaves standing near an injured Wilson — and signed by Reaves in red ink with the inscription “He ran into a Lion in the Jungle,” which Reaves said in a postgame statement. 

Via Inscriptagraphs

Again, fan reaction ran the usual gamut, from those in the anti-Wilson camp saying it was a great idea, to Capitals fans bemoaning that the picture was in poor taste. 

According to Inscriptagraphs, Reaves signed the photos on December 6. The photos were for sale yesterday on the Inscriptagraphs website and on  Ebay, but were removed from both after popular Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks reported about the photo. ESPN later reported that “the photos were not distributed and they have been destroyed,” as per a spokesperson for the Golden Knights. 

So, did Reaves go too far when he signed this photo? 

My first reaction was like many non-Capitals fans. I thought the photo was kind of novel and funny, but not something I’d pay $127.46 for, which was the price Inscriptagraphs was selling it for on Ebay. (The full price was $149.99. The photo would also come with a certificate of authenticity, and could be matted and framed for an additional fee.)

But after thinking about it for a minute, I recalled that Wilson was hurt on the play, and changed my mind. Sure, I want Wilson to get taken down a peg or two every now and then, and don’t have the most-positive opinion of him, but I’d never wish injury on him or anyone. 

Then I wondered if Reaves had the same thoughts as he was signing and inscribing numerous copies of the 16″ by 20″ photo. Obviously, I have no problems with players signing autographs, but I wouldn’t ask a player to sign something where he was shown getting hurt or in a negative light. Heck, even some retired boxers or MMA fighters won’t sign a photo that shows them standing over a knocked-out opponent unless the opponent signed it first. 

I doubt Reaves made the same consideration as he was collecting money to scrawl his name and some words on a photo. When you are a fourth-line role player, you gotta make hay when the sun shines, right? But apparently, Reaves had a change of heart afterwards, and asked Inscriptagraphs to destroy the photos. According to Jesse Granger, who covers the Golden Knights for The Athletic: 

Ryan Reaves says he did sign the pictures of his hit on Tom Wilson. He later realized it was in bad taste, so he called the memorabilia store back and told them to destroy them. None of the photos were sold. (via Twitter)

Whether or not Reaves had this change of heart after the public outcry is moot. Sometimes, we realize our own mistakes after we make them, and other times, people have to point them out to us. The important thing is to learn from them. Like his hit on Wilson, Reaves went a little too far over the line when he signed that photo, but saw the error of his ways and corrected the mistake. ■

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk 

Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

5 thoughts on “Was Ryan Reaves Autographing Tom Wilson Injury Photo Going Too Far?”

  1. Reaves knee full well what he was doing when he signed the photo. Once he got immediate negative response, his team made him take it down and his behind a PR guy. All the whole Reaves’ brother tried to create a case of “fan news” and internet charters blamed Caps fans for creating this story. George McPhee took hours to act, not a mere minute. He should be ashamed of himself. And you shouldn’t make excuses for Reaves.

    1. I wasn’t making excuses for Reaves; just reiterating what was already reported.

      And to err is human, but forgive is divine.

  2. A rose is a rose…a wolf is a wolf…and garbage players are garbage players regardless of what team they play for. Wilson, while contributing immensely to his team and their top line, plays the game on the edge and doesn’t think about the repercussions of his actions when he takes the ice. He will always target players, he will always hit high, and he will always put the big hit ahead of anything else. Reaves has always played the heel in whatever role he has taken; St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Vegas (and wherever he goes in the future). Just look at his PTS vs. PIMs and you can see his job is agitator and that’s all. These two have some history of violence versus one another and it boiled over.

    Finding personalities in today’s NHL is like finding a needle in a haystack. We are hard pressed to find guys willing to speak their minds and not tow the company line or speak like the hockey robots they have been taught to be. Guys like Wilson and Reaves are rare in todays league and despite both of their levels of moronic behavior, I hate to say it but they still provide that slight edge of entertainment. In today’s world of instant media intrusion, I think the jobbing and trash talk that crosses the line gets amplified by the court of public opinion. Everyone has an opinion and so many are offended by one thing or another.

    I agree that bad taste is bad taste. Did Reaves know what he was doing? Probably. But I’m sure he, like many others in the moment, felt like it was in gist and kind of funny (I imagine Wilson would have done the same thing as he sat laughing on the bench after destroying Zach Austin Reese in the playoffs). Again, hindsight is 20/20. If it was 1996 and this happened, no one would have known about it until someone found one of those photos at the NSCC and it may have garnered enough attention to get a mention in The Hockey News or Hockey Digest or dare I say SI? Today, everyone has an opinion and can instantly express it.

  3. I love it. Wilson got what he deserved and I think Reaves got a bit of payback and some notoriety. Frankly, I think this is a touch of a return back to the old days where there was a level of respect on the ice and if not, players policed themselves. This is so needed now since clearly the NHL has no interest in policing things properly (aaka the Wilson hit on Seney which clearly was intentional and was as bad as the Dale Hunter on Pierre Turgeon hit after he scored back in 93). Frankly, these sorts of things should make scum bags like Wilson think twice before moving for a cheap shot on someone in the future in that someone will retaliate and have support of fans and other players.
    As for Reaves – love it. He’s standing up and taking credit for doing what needed to be done while serving a need and a want of the fans (in that they would love an auto’d picture of the incident). It’s about time the league started to pay attention and deliver what the fans want (like another team in Canada here where people want it instead of some southern locale where no one cares about hockey like Pheonix).

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