Capitals’ Tom Wilson Issues 1-Word Response to Matt Rempe

Tom Wilson

Getty Enforcer Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals.

With the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs arriving in Manhattan for a first-round series between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals that kicked off on Sunday, rookie Matt Rempe let everybody know about who inspired him when he was trying to go pro.

“When I was younger, I think there’s this montage of [Wilson] on YouTube just blowing guys up,” Rempe told reporters after practice at MSG Training Center on Thursday, via Mollie Walker of The New York Post. “I used to watch that sometimes when I was younger, it got me fired up.”

On Saturday, April 20, Wilson, the Capitals’ alternate captain, talked to Sammi Silber of The Hockey News and discussed Rempe.

Told about Rempe’s praise, Wilson nodded and smiled, replying simply, “Hmm,” according to Silber.

Come puck-drop time on Sunday, April 21, however, all Wilson did was witness Rempe lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win in Game 1 as New York took a 1-0 lead in the first-round series between both teams.

Matt Rempe & Tom Wilson Feature Similar Traits

Although Wilson turned 30 years old in March 2024, the Capitals forward has been around the league since he was drafted as the No. 16 pick in the 2012 NHL draft by Washington, which brought him to their roster during the 2013-14 season.

This is Wilson’s 11th year in the NHL, a career that has seen him appear in 754 regular-season games as well as 83 postseason contests, including 21 in 2018 on his way to winning the Stanley Cup with the Caps.

Rempe, on the other hand, has a grand total of 17 games of NHL experience after debuting earlier this season in the Stadium Series game played between the Rangers and the New York Islanders, won by the Blueshirts and in which it took Rempe one single shift to get into his first NHL fight.

“I like the way he plays,” Rempe said about Wilson, per Silber at The Hockey News. “He plays hard, very skilled player as well. It’s a guy who does a lot of different things.

“Obviously, I got a lot of respect for that guy. I think he’s a hell of a player. I know he’s a really good competitor.”

Wilson has been suspended six times since 2017, including getting handed a six-game suspension earlier this season when he hit Toronto Maple Leafs forward Noah Gregor in the face in an “extremely reckless fashion,” as it was described in a video by NHL Player Safety.

Rempe isn’t far behind considering his brief tenure in the NHL. The rookie enforcer has racked up 71 penalty minutes and 50 hits in fewer than 20 games played and 96 minutes of playing time. He has instigated fights, responded to challenges, injured opponents, been suspended, and even catalyzed the infamous brawl between the Rangers and the Devils at the start of April.

Rangers & Capitals Have a Hot Past

The Rangers are entering the playoffs as the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy winners with the most points (114) in the league and an all-time best 55 wins in franchise history. They were the first team to clinch a playoff.

The Capitals were the last team to make it to the playoffs via wild-card berth after amassing 91 points in just 40 wins throughout the regular season. It took them an inadvertently pulled goalie to clinch that spot in a rather bizarre way.

Rangers’ head coach Peter Laviolette was on the Capitals bench last season before he signed with New York last summer.

Wilson was involved in a controversial sequence in a game against the Rangers in May 2021 when he punched Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head and then rag-dolled a helmetless Artemi Panarin.

The Capitals forward, however, doesn’t want to talk about that and is focusing more on producing on the ice rather than getting into fights once the playoffs get going.

“At this time of year, you’re focused on winning games,” Wilson said, according to Silber. “I think fighting can take a little bit of a backseat in the playoffs.

“Every play, every shift, every puck is so important. I don’t think guys want to be sitting in the box for that long period of time; you want to have an impact on the game.”

When asked if he would entertain fighting the Rangers rookie, however, Wilson left the door open to all possibilities.

“Emotions get high and it’s still the game of hockey, so I’m not gonna sit here and make any predictions,” Wilson said, per Silber. “We got to play the series. It’s a rival we know really well.

“Two awesome rinks, two awesome fan bases, and that’s kind of what it’s all about going head to head and in the playoffs.”

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