Rangers’ Veteran Reveals Teammates Planned Devils’ Brawl in Advance

Kurtis MacDermid of the New Jersey Devils fights with Matt Rempe of the New York Rangers

Getty Kurtis MacDermid of the New Jersey Devils fights with Matt Rempe of the New York Rangers

It’s been nearly a week since the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils combined to create the Brawl Heard ‘Round the World on Wednesday, April 3.

And yet, we keep getting new information related to the lead-up to the fight and how it came about.

We already knew about Rangers’ rookie Matt Rempe‘s track record of NHL fighting and his history with the Devils in particular. We already know the NHL will not apply any retrospective suspensions to those involved in the brawl.

What he didn’t know until Sunday (April 7) was that the Rangers planned to foster a brawl in the moments right before the puck drop on April 3.

Rangers’ forward Jimmy Vesey talked to Peter Baugh of The Athletic on Friday, April 5, after the game against the Devils and heading into a matchup with the Detroit Red Wings.

Vesey revealed that “he and (Barclay) Goodrow approached the Devils about fighting after the National Anthem,” per Peter Baugh.

According to Baugh, Vesey and Goodrow “knew Rempe was going to fight Kurtis MacDermid to answer the bell for his hit on Jonas Siegenthaler the last time the teams played.”

Vesey added, “[Rempe] has stepped up a lot for our team and it’s a hard job. He had a tough assignment going into that game facing off against a pretty big, tough dude in MacDermid.

“Me and Goody, as a line, wanted to show him we were in it together and maybe take a little bit of pressure off him.”

Vesey revealed that he “didn’t know Trouba and Miller would fight.” According to Baugh, all fights following Vesey’s and Goodrow’s “seemed to have happened more organically.”

Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow Plotted Fighting the Devils

Vesey didn’t stop at revealing that he and his teammate tried to stage a brawl in advance of the anticipated fight between Rangers’ forward Rempe and Devil’s enforcer MacDermid.

Vesey also told Baugh about his attempt to make all fights happen at once so nobody on the Rangers lineup got ejected. According to NHL Rule 46.7, a fight starting after one has already begun draws an automatic game misconduct.

“I knew the rule,” Vesey said. “I said to Goody, ‘We have to make sure it’s the same time,’ but obviously my guy is right next to me and he’s fighting a defenseman.”

Goodrow fought defenseman Kevin Bahl, so he couldn’t jump straight into a fight as he had to skate forward to find his opponent on the ice.

That’s why other than Vesey and Curtis Lazard, labeled the initiators of the brawl by way of staging the opening fight, all other players on the ice to start the game (except the goalies) were ejected just two seconds into the game.

“I think it was a little nitpick,” Vesey told Baught about the eight-man collective ejection.

Vesey Gets Top-Line Assignment, Jack Roslovic Gets Healthy Scratch

Following the victory against the Devils, Rangers’ trade-deadline acquisition Jack Roslovic, who has started on the right wing of the first line since arriving in New York, logged a team-low 8:07 of ice time.

That happened in another win by New York, against the Detroit Red Wings, 4-3 on the road. On Sunday, April 7, the Rangers made Roslovic’s scratch official ahead of their matchup against the Canadiens later that day.

Head coach Peter Laviolette was asked if the scratch was “just a rotation thing” before the game, to which he affirmed, replying “just a rotation thing” to the question during his pregame press conference on April 7.

With Roslovic out, Laviolette inserted Vesey on the top line along with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, leading up to a near-83% expected goals in favor of New York during their time together on five-on-five situations, per Natural Stat Trick.

The Rangers (league-leading 53 wins and 110 points in 78 games) beat the Canadiens 5-2 on Sunday without Roslovic, earning two more points and winning their third consecutive game and eighth of their last nine contests.

Artemi Panarin led all Rangers with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists). Mika Zibanejad scored 2 goals and had 1 assist. Chris Kreider and Alexis Lafreniere scored the other two goals for New York.

These Rangers have already matched the franchise single-season wins record set in the 2015 season with four games left this year before the regular season ends next week.

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