Matt Rempe admits he has ‘lot of respect’ for Rangers nemesis from Capitals: report

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rempe raised a few eyebrows by telling reporters Thursday he has “a lot of respect” for New York Rangers nemesis Tom Wilson. The rookie’s comments came just three days before the Rangers face off with Wilson’s Washington Capitals in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Though feared throughout the League for playing on the edge and often crossing the line into dirty play, Wilson may be most hated by the Rangers and their fans. The Rangers have long memories that stretch back to 2021 when Wilson cross-checked Pavel Buchnevich and then ragdolled Artemi Panarin, injuring the star forward who’s not known at all to be a physical player nor fighter.

The Rangers were so furious with Wilson’s actions and the fact that he wasn’t suspended, that they ended up being fined $250,000 by the NHL for a statement denouncing the League and its Department of Player Safety.

But Rempe took the high road when speaking about Wilson on Thursday after Rangers practice.

“I like the way he plays, plays hard,” Rempe told Mollie Walker of the New York Post. “Very skilled player, as well. It’s a guy who does a lot of different things. Obviously, I’ve got a lot of respect for the guy.”

It is true that the polarizing Wilson is some ways a unique player. The feisty forward has been suspended six times since 2017, including a six-game ban in March for high-sticking Toronto Maple Leafs forward Noah Gregor in the face.

Wilson has also scored 20 or more goals three times in the NHL and was fourth on the Capitals this season with 18.

“I think he’s … a hell of a player,” Rempe said.

Related: Rangers vs. Capitals schedule, results, TV info for 1st-round series

Matt Rempe shares respect for Tom Wilson ahead of Rangers playoff series against Capitals

NHL: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Rempe is striving to be a similarly effective player as Wilson, minus the dirty play. The 6-foot-8 forward’s goal is to be a regular in the lineup, not only because he’s an intimidating player, but because he can be a trusted two-way player.

The 21-year-old stated Thursday that he’s been enjoying Wilson for years, even as a kid.

“When I was younger, i think there’s this montage of him on YouTube just blowing guys up,” Rempe explained. “I used to watch that sometimes when I was younger, it got me fired up.”

So, there’ll be respect if Rempe is in the lineup against Wilson in the first-round series. Though it can be expected that Rempe won’t be in awe nor will he back down against Wilson. It shapes up to be a wildly intriguing sublot to the series, especially because Washington is expected to play a heavy, physical game, trying to wear down New York.

“I don’t think it’s been an issue for us. i think we have guys that can play a physical game,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “I don’t think we’ve been in games where we’ve been bullied or intimidated.”

Rempe’s presence in the lineup certainly provides an extra layer of piece of mind for the Rangers. He finished third on the Rangers with 71 penalty minutes, despite playing in only 17 games. He also was kicked out of three games and was suspended four games for elbowing Jonas Siegenthaler of the New Jersey Devils

Whether Rempe is in the lineup for Game 1 is not known. Laviolette said he won’t divulge any lineup decisions throughout the playoffs.

Rempe took a regular turn on the fourth line with Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey at practice Thursday. The odd forwards out appear to be Jonny Brodzinski and Filip Chytil, who practiced again but hasn’t played since early November because of an upper-body injury believed to be a concussion.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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