Rangers: How Matt Rempe's size could be a disadvantage and a liability

Matt Rempe has a notable height disparity against some of his opponents. That difference could make taking longer penalties for harmful hits more inevitable.

Feb 28, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) skates against the
Feb 28, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) skates against the / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rempe’s NHL career began on a high note making his debut with the New York Rangers during the Stadium Series. He might have had one of the most unique, and picturesque, “rookie laps” in NHL history.

Since then, the legend of the 6’8” skater not afraid to drop the gloves has only grown into that of this season’s breakout character.

ESPN’s Greg Wyshnyski wrote an article on Rempe’s recent rise to fame. One point of discussion was the match penalty Rempe took after a hit to the head on Nathan Bastian against the New Jersey Devils.

Turns out Rempe’s impressive frame can be a disadvantage at times. His height turns what would be a completely legal hit for a “normal” sized player into potentially dangerous contact for Rempe.

Matt Rempe has his pros and cons for the New York Rangers

That match penalty against Bastian was the perfect example. Even though he was thrown out, Rempe had no further discipline from the league’s Department of Player Safety. Fans had differing opinions on how much Kempe was to blame.

It’s not Rempe’s fault he’s tall or that his opponents are shorter than him. Should referees give out punishment and penalties based on the result of the play, or by intent?

Considering the NHL’s almighty “double minor” penalty for blood being drawn, where even the slightest amount of blood automatically makes a penalty double as bad, would lead you to believe the former.

Proponents of Rempe would like to think the on-ice officials would give him a bit more leeway.

Some NHL rules might be up to interpretation but any grey area goes away when it comes to contact with the head. No matter how much Rempe or his coaches plead the case of his size, a referee is going to call down head contact every time.

The safety of the player at the receiving end of the head contact outweighs giving Rempe the benefit of the doubt. We can assume the league is giving Rempe the benefit of the doubt, considering his hit on Bastian wasn’t followed by a suspension like similar hits warranted.

Let’s say Rempe continues to play and runs into the same problems. Would the Department of Player Safety label him a repeat offender?

Or would they do as they did with the Bastian hit and leave it be to on-ice officials? How black and white is the league going to consider this issue when it comes to potential punishments and penalties for Rempe? 

To Rempe’s credit, he has talked about how he tries to limit those potentially dangerous hits. He specifically told the New York Post he worked on lining up open ice hits starting with his time in junior.

Rempe might be a “unicorn” now as his height puts him above nearly all his on-ice opponents but he won’t be the last “much taller than average” guy to put on skates. How will the NHL deal with those types of players going forward? Guess we'll have to wait and see.