Rangers rookie drops humorous quip, but is serious about earning regular role next season

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

On their final day together this season, the New York Rangers caught a couple more glimpses of why Matt Rempe is so beloved by his teammates and the Blueshirts fanbase.

When asked what his plan is for the summer, Rempe provided some humor first and then provided a detailed answer of how he’s going to work toward achieving his goal of being a regular in the Rangers lineup next season.

“What is my plan for the summer? Well, first off, I have to get rid of my eye infection. I look like an idiot,” Rempe quipped, referencing his swollen right eye, that was not the result of a recent fight.

But then he turned serious.

“I’m going to work on every single part of my game. I want to bring more to the table. I want to be a guy that can play 8-12 minutes every single night … I want to be really good defensively. Eventually I want to be a penalty killer,” the popular 6-foot-8 rookie said.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do and I’ve always done that, a sixth-round pick, kind of always exceed expectations. Outwork, outwork, outwork.”

If that doesn’t further endear Rempe to coach Peter Laviolette, the front office and the guys in the locker room, it’d be hard to understand what would.

The confidence, work ethic, drive, passion, humility and sense of self is off the charts for a 21-year-old with 28 games of NHL experience (17 regular-season games, 11 postseason) under his belt.

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Matt Rempe eyes full-time role with Rangers next season

NHL: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Rempe burst on to the scene in New York this season when he was called up from Hartford in the American Hockey League in February, just in time to make his NHL debut in front of 80,000 fans outdoors against the Islanders at MetLife Stadium. A fight with Islanders enforcer Matt Martin on his first NHL shift followed and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Garden Faithful threw their collective arms around the unassuming budding Broadway star, and he rewarded them with an unbridled joy on every shift he took this season. Hard-nosed, yet with some skills, Rempe had one goal, one assist and 71 penalty minutes in the regular season.

That Rempe scored New York’s first goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is something right out of a Hollywood script.

“I just want to thank them, so much,” Rempe said about the Rangers fans. “It’s a dream come true. A Calgary kid comes up from Hartford and suddenly several games in they’re chanting my name, it’s pretty unbelievable. I love them so much.”

But this instant fame hasn’t gone to his head. Rempe wants to earn Laviolette’s trust more, after averaging 5:37 in ice time per game in the season and 6:07 in the playoffs.

So, he’s heading home to Calgary to work and improve in all areas. Yes, even in fighting. And pilates classes are on the schedule too. The kid is serious about taking that next step in his development.

“I’m nowhere near satisfied at all in any aspect of my game.”

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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