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Devils Nathan Bastian Offers First Comment on Matt Rempe, Line Brawl

Devils forward Nathan Bastian speaks in his first availabilty since the hit by Matt Rempe that ended his season, and missing out on the line brawl with the Rangers.



New Jersey Devils

NEWARK — New Jersey Devils forward Nathan Bastian’s season was over as of February 23rd.

On his first shift of the game on February 22nd, Bastian took an illegal check to the head from New York Rangers forward Matt Rempe that saw the rookie forward receive a match penalty, ejecting him from the game.

Bastian left for the locker room, and although he did return, he took just two more shifts in the entire game totaling 1:40 of time on ice.

One week later, Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald acquired enforcer Kurtis MacDermid to help even the score.

By now you know the history. Rempe denied MacDermid a chance to drop the gloves to even the odds on March 11th. He was later ejected for another questionable hit, this time on Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler that earned Rempe a four-game suspension.

On his way out, a taunt to the Devils’ bench, a wave goodbye to MacDermid, and suddenly, April 3rd at Madison Square Garden was must-watch T.V.

The 10 skaters on the ice didn’t make anyone wait, breaking out into a line brawl as soon as the puck hit the ice.

While recovering from injury, Bastian hadn’t been available to speak on any of the events that unfolded after his season ended back in February. On locker-room clean-out day, Bastian emphasized how badly he wanted to be in the line brawl with his teammates.

“That was the one game that I was really kicking myself that I didn’t get to be a part of,” Bastian explained. “I think you guys saw what a teammate some of these guys are. [MacDermid] wasn’t even here for when the original incident happened. He was the first guy to step in and stick up for guys that he’d known for a couple of weeks. So yeah, crazy game. I wish I was out there.”

Unlike the hit on Siegenthaler, Rempe didn’t receive discipline outside of the game misconduct he was handed at the beginning of the Devils-Rangers tilt on March 11th.

However, in hindsight, Bastian noted that several players were injured by Rempe and his knack for throwing a questionable hit.

“I understand the league and I understand the fan bases and the controversy when you want to talk about the hits and there’s different angles and ways to look at it,” Bastian stated. “Obviously, they’ll have their opinions and maybe we’ll have ours. But, as the games went by and he kept hitting guys in the head, I think it almost made mine look a little better. Right? If you went through my DMs, the amount of people who told me I should play with my head up, I get that. But, when he plays four, five, or six games later and he keeps hurting guys maybe that made my case look a little bit different, I think.”

The Rangers are moving forward with their season and have the Stanley Cup Playoffs to worry about.

The Devils, on the other hand, are packed up and heading home for the offseason.

This chapter in the Devils-Rangers rivalry didn’t quite feel like it was over even after the line brawl that featured MacDermid, Rempe, and 162 penalty minutes two seconds into puck drop.

Perhaps the fact that Bastian missed the climax of the season series between the Hudson River Rivals means the 26-year-old has unfinished business to handle next season.

Had the Devils had more schedule in front of them, a few players would have been nearing a return. That includes Bastian who revealed the awful timing of his injury stint.

“Honestly, I don’t think the timing of the injury could have been any worse. Like, if we’re in the middle of the season, I would be joining the group today, maybe,” Bastian admitted. “Obviously, I’m happy that I’m healthy, but missing 25 games when the season picks up, and obviously, a lot of those games are important games and not being a part of that sucked.”

As a bottom-six forward, Bastian knows he needs to fight for every second of ice time he gets.

Mostly recovered, and unlike last offseason, Bastian is looking forward to a healthy offseason that will allow him to focus on becoming stronger and sharpening his hockey skills.

“I’m really looking forward to being able to train in the summer. Last summer after doing my shoulder, I spent the entire summer [with] no time on the ice really,” said Bastian.” [I spent] time in the gym, but obviously doing very specific shoulder-related stuff. So to be able to get a summer of workouts and skates and actually training means a lot to me this summer.”

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