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.
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. ■