Rangers’ Matt Rempe knows what to expect after Maple Leafs enforcer’s comments

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Matt Rempe likely knows what’s on tap for him when the New York Rangers visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. As an emerging NHL heavyweight, Rempe will be lined up against one of the more feared enforcers in the League, Maple Leafs forward Ryan Reaves.

And in a calm, confident way, Reaves set the stage for an expected battle with the Rangers rookie in the Hockey Night in Canada showcase.

“I don’t have the game script, but you never know,” Reaves said with a smirk and more than a little cockiness when asked Friday if he expected to fight Rempe.

Reaves added some snark, as well.

“Good on him. He’s got some attention … see how long it lasts.”

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Reaves has earned the right to be dismissive, if that’s the right word. He’s taken on all comers over his 14 NHL seasons, including a season-plus with the Rangers. 

The 37-year-old is not flustered at all that Rempe is building a quick reputation and likely will be eager to go Saturday. Just as Rempe was against Islanders forward Matt Martin on his first NHL shift outdoors in front of 79,600 fans at MetLife Stadium.

“He’s coming into the League trying to make a name for himself anyway he can,” Reaves said. “That’s how I came in (with the St. Louis Blues in 2010-11). I wasn’t called up to add scoring touch for sure. It was to be physical, stick up for teammates … I kind of came into the League the same way.”

Reaves has 1,052 penalty minutes in 860 NHL games. He’s been there, done that, time and again.

Rempe has three fights and 32 penalty minutes in his first six games since being recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League. He’s being noticed around the League after his wild fights with Martin, Nicolas Deslauriers (Philadelphia Flyers) and Mathieu Olivier (Columbus Blue Jackets).

“It’s been a hot start for him, a good start,” Reaves said of Rempe, who also has scored a goal and added an assist playing on New York’s fourth line.

Rempe will have a distinct height advantage against Reaves if they drop the gloves Saturday, as expected. The 21-year-old is listed at 6-foot-7, though claims to be an inch and a half taller than that. Reaves is 6-foot-2.

“You can’t get strung out by him, for sure,” Reaves explained. “You have to try and stay a little inside because you’ve got to be able to reach him. I’ve got long arms but not 6-foot-7 long … not something I’ve never dealt with.”

So, just days after Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said Rempe needs to stay out of the penalty box in order to develop more as an NHL player, it’s more than likely he’ll be filling the sin bin for at least five minutes after encountering Reaves at Scotiabank Arena this weekend. 

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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