It was natural to think the New York Rangers “got it” after they traded in the misguided clenched jaw ways of Gerrard Gallant behind the bench for the usually up-tempo ways of Peter Laviolette after the Devils essentially skated them out of the building last spring in the first round. The Devils were clearly faster, more skilled, and the Rangers were left chasing all over the ice from Game 3 on. All they could do was pull some normal Jacob Trouba assholery, and that didn’t really do much except hamstring the Devils in the next round. Choosing Laviolette as coach should have meant that the Rags were going to try to be better at even-strength, keep the puck more, try and play faster, and not rely on three cross-ice passes every time they wanted to enter the offensive zone with possession.

At least in a tangible way that relates to winning hockey games. We now know that Rempe is here to delight folks in Motley Crue shirts in the blue seats (does MSG still have blue seats?). If you haven’t been paying attention to Rangers hockey of late, the Rangers called up Rempe two weeks ago or so and he has managed to get into four fights in the eight games he’s played. Or, to give you a better idea of just how much hockey use he’s had, he’s racked up 20 minutes in fighting majors while skating around 40 minutes on the actual ice. He’s also spent most of those four fights getting fed, and has been walking around with two black eyes lately.

All of his fights have been the staged variety with other goobers whose time has passed like Ryan Reaves or Matt Martin, all of them having their own circus tent barely adjacent to the NHL game they’re ostensibly a part of. They have served no purpose other than riling up the blood of a few descendants of Archie Bunker.

We know Rempe doesn’t actually help the Rangers win hockey games, because he’s never been trusted with more than seven minutes of ice time. That’s actually a problem for the entire fourth line for the Rangers, as Jonny Brodzinksi and Adam Enstrom can’t get near 10 minutes either, Nor can Will Cuylle, and only having eight forwards in the circle of trust generally does not lead to a long playoff run against teams that can roll four lines. Exhibit A was the Rangers getting completely rolled by the Panthers last night at MSG at even strength (36.7 xG percentage). Blake Wheeler’s and Filip Chytil’s season-ending injuries haven’t helped, which is why you’ll hear the Rangers connected to just about every depth forward on the market between now and the trade deadline.

Whatever “energy” Rempe has brought to the Blueshirts is disproven by the fact that they had won six in a row before he ever showed up, and is just a case of hockey players always protecting a teammate in the press.

Yes, Rempe is something of an adult, though how much a 21-year-old hockey player can claim to be an adult is certainly open to question. But there is something sordid about calling up a player for no hockey use and letting him get his brain rattled around by various knuckle-draggers simply for the sake of it. Make no mistake, it’s the only reason he’s here, and his presence on the bench certainly didn’t scare the Panthers from doing what they normally do. He wasn’t some dynamo in the AHL who’s just adjusting his game upon promotion.

Some may argue that this is how he achieves his dream and he worked hard to get here. Uh-huh. Except his dream doesn’t really involve playing hockey, and millions of people don’t get to achieve their dream because they’re no damn good at it. I’ve been through enough stand-up open mics to have seen it plenty.

Hockey is a dangerous enough sport that players are making some kind of choice to make millions and live out their dreams. These are finely tuned athletes crashing into each other at 25 MPH all while having two razor blades attached to their feet. That’s just the nature of the game. Staged fights are superfluous and adding the possibility of long-term problems for no real reasons. Imagine what would happen in the NBA if a team called up a player from the G-League who couldn’t shoot, defend, pass, or handle, but man could he take a flagrant foul. There’s already enough of a mob that wants Draymond Green out of the league and he can really play!

It’s also kind of a strange message to send to the rest of the Rangers’ AHL team in Hartford, that working on and improving one’s actual hockey skills isn’t any more likely to get them an NHL paycheck even for a few days than presenting one’s face for someone else’s fist. Not that the Wolf Pack are teeming with prospects at the moment who could help New York’s depth problem, but there’s one or two who could do better than five minutes a night.

The Rangers have room to play with, of course. The Canes aren’t going to catch them for first in the Metro barring some epic collapse. But you can bet come Game 1 in April, Rempe will be nowhere to be found, and if he is he’ll be lucky to see three minutes of the ice while opponents take advantage of the rest of the overworked forwards in the Rangers lineup. The Hurricanes have 12 forwards who all average over 10 minutes per game at even-strength. They certainly have their postseason hoodoos, but going at them with eight forwards isn’t a keen strategy.

Maybe it’s just 15 minutes of fame. Maybe Rempe will look back at it fondly in 20 years, if he can remember it. Maybe he won’t care, or even realize, how pointless it all was. There’s just better uses of the Rangers and his time.


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