Matt Rempe reveals veteran Matt Martin’s words after fighting him in his first-ever NHL shift

The New York Rangers drafted Matt Rempe 165th overall in 2020, and on Sunday, it was finally time for his first-ever NHL game.

And it wasn’t an ordinary first game. Rempe became the first player in history to make his NHL debut in an outdoor game, and he got exactly what he wanted.

And he wasted no time getting there. Islanders’ veteran Matt Martin eyed down the 6’8” defenseman during the opening face-off, and just a second into his first NHL game, Rempe’s gloves were off.

With a reach few players in NHL history could match, Rempe traded punches with Martin before the two called it quits.

Rempe looked victorious and proud as he skated to the penalty box, throwing his arms up.

He wanted to get the Rangers crowd going, and he indeed succeeded. When Rempe saw in the penalty box the upcoming minutes, he was all smiles, and fans found it absolutely wholesome just how happy he was.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – FEBRUARY 18: Matt Rempe #73 of the New York Rangers, playing in his first career NHL game fights with Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders during the first period during the 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium on February 18, 2024 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

He had done just what the Rangers wanted.

“I thought he came in here and did exactly what we wanted him to do,” head coach Peter Laviolette said after the Rangers 6-5 win in overtime. “He provided some size, some physicality. He had some good shifts on his line in the offensive zone. Kudos to Martin for giving him his first one up here. It was a heck of a fight. You don’t see it very much in an outdoor game.

“You think about Rempe’s path and this being his first game on a memorable day for him and dropping the gloves with a guy that’s been around in this league and has fought a lot of fights and established himself as a really tough customer. Kudos to him. It was awesome. He couldn’t have had a better night.”

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Rempe finished the night with the fighting major and one hit in 4:26 of ice time. And apparently, he even received praise from his fighting opponent.

Postgame, Rempe revealed that Martin had told him in the penalty box that he previously fought 6’9“ Chara but that Rempe had longer arms. And the fight happened on Martin’s initiative.

“We were lined up there and he told me congrats and asked me if I wanted (to fight),” Rempe said. “I was like ‘hell yeah, I want it.’”

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