Auston Matthews sounds off on teammate Ryan Reaves.

Auston Matthews sounds off on teammate Ryan Reaves.

Auston Matthews gets real about teammate Ryan Reaves after a win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Jonathan Larivee

Throughout the course of the 2023-24 National Hockey League regular season there has been plenty of debate regarding the decision from Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving to bring in NHL enforcer Ryan Reaves.

Reaves has been the target of criticism at various points throughout the season for his inconsistent level of play, and was even a healthy scratch for an extended period of time according to the veteran enforcer himself, but things appear to have turned around for the Maple Leafs enforcer.

Not only has Reaves improved his game on the ice, but it is becoming more and more evident that his role as an enforcer for the Maple Leafs is indeed having a positive impact on the locker rooms overall morale. The most recent example of this came last night after the Maple Leafs triumphed over long time rivals the Montreal Canadiens, with Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews singing the praises of the Leafs enforcer.

"He's just an animal, honestly, he's a beast," admitted Matthews on Saturday. "And like I said, I think it's moments like those where you really realize how important he is to the team and what he brings on the ice as well as off the ice. So I thought, like I said, a couple games ago or last week he's been playing some incredible hockey for us as a late and peaking at a really good time. So it's been great to see."

It likely isn't a coincidence that these comments came after Reaves dished out a beating to Montreal's Michael Pezzetta earlier in the night.