Devils brawl was all part of the ‘fun’ for Matt Rempe

“Rempe Was Running Around,” sounds like it could be the title of a Netflix series documenting the adventures of a 21-year-old, 6-foot-8 ¹/₂-inch tourist in his first visit to the big city.

Only, “Rempe was running around” were the words Jacob Trouba used when talking about what he and three teammates did during Wednesday’s game after they’d been ejected two seconds into the match for their part in the line brawl initiated by the Devils.

Then when Matt Rempe, the star of the show, came off the ice from Thursday’s optional practice in advance of the flight to Detroit for Friday’s tilt, No. 73 was only to happy to fill in the details.

“Oh yeah, I was buzzing around, jumping around, running around, doing flips,” he said as if recounting a sleepover date with his buddies. ”It was fun.

“Just [being] with all these guys, you’re seeing comments on social media, they’re funny and stuff, and I was reading out a couple of them to the fellas there, laughing. It was cool, just cool.”

I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m not sure I have ever encountered a player who is as authentic, comfortable in his skin and as happy to be here as Rempe. That said, Rempe is not a caricature. He’s a young guy with ambitions of making it in the NHL. But first, he’s himself.

Matt Rempe didn’t hesitate when it was time to answer the bell at puck drop. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

So there was no pretense when Rempe talked about the brawl, in which his matchup with Kurtis MacDermid was the main event off which the Devils piggybacked to make some sort of statement that was illegible.

“That was a long fight, that was a banger,” Rempe said of the bout that lasted for just about a minute. “That was long, that was fun.

“Those guys are my brothers, so it was a we’re-all-going-to-war-together type of thing. It wasn’t planned or anything, it just happened, and I think it was really special. I knew I was going to have to fight, not a big deal, an-answer-the-bell type of thing, but going to war with me was pretty dang special, definitely a really cool experience.

Will Cuylle and Dawson Mercer also got in on the festivities. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“I love all those guys.”

And yes, Rempe said, “Dang.”

I don’t necessarily think there was a larger message to be derived from this tomfoolery. The Rangers had no choice to fight the guys by whom they were being challenged unless they were going to lay down and turtle. The Blueshirts battled at the two-second mark, but more to the point they battled back from a 3-2 deficit after two to win an important game.

Rempe was a willing combatant with Devils’ Kurtis MacDermid, even if he didn’t anticipate being ejected. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The Biggest One was in the lineup for this one after having been scratched for the previous three games. There was an obligation after Rempe had concussed Jonas Siegenthaler with an elbow to the head that drew a four-game suspension last time. The Rangers and head coach Peter Laviolette met it.

“Like I said, we assumed there would be one fight,” said Laviolette, who did say they’d heard “some noise” from the Devils. “Whatever came from the other side, came from the other side.”

Rempe lined up at the circle across from Kurtis MacDermid, the veteran enforcer who called out No. 73 for failing to fight after the Siegenthaler hit. Referee Gord Dwyer skated over to the pair. Rempe couldn’t tell you what he said.

A scuffle breaks out between New York Rangers center Matt Rempe #73 and New Jersey Devils defenseman Kurtis MacDermid #23 as will as three other sets of players as soon as the puck drops during the first period. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“I don’t remember, I don’t even know,” Rempe said. “I know MacDermid was going, ‘We’re going right now.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I know. I know. I think that’s the reason we’re starting, you know?’ So I just stood up, probably not going to get the puck anyways, and backed up so he didn’t get the jump off the bat.

“It was good. It was wicked. The crowd was going mad, actually chanting your name, and then firing the crowd up after, that was cool,” said Rempe, who has played in three games against the Devils for a sum of 10 shifts worth 5:03 while picking up three game misconducts and 47 PIM. “Wicked, wicked.”

As Rempe and MacDermid dropped their gloves and squared off, Curtis Lazar had attacked Jimmy Vesey immediately at the drop of the puck. So that was designated the original fight. The others were judged secondary. As such, Rempe, Trouba, Barclay Goodrow and K’Andre Miller were released from the penalty box and skated to the locker room after having been assessed game misconducts.

“I thought we were going to have a good five minutes in there with the fellas, we were all going to meet and huddle up there, getting cozy and having a good time, but they came over and said that we were gone,” Rempe said. ‘’Are you kidding me?’

“I didn’t know that was the rule, and I was like, damn, TOI [time on ice] didn’t go up that game. It was tough, two seconds, but we just fired the crowd up and we got off and it was cool.”

Rempe is not a team mascot. He is an option for the playoffs depending on the matchup and the situation. He can play. He has been a gust of fresh air since he came onto the scene at the outdoor game. In an era of pre-programmed athletes, he is a throwback in more ways than one.

“I mean, he likes what he does. He likes the hitting, he loves the game,” Laviolette said. “He’s living his best life, right?”

Gold, Rempe. Gold.


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