With all the Brad Richards mayhem going down the past two days, the Rangers’ signing of Mike Rupp got lost in the shuffle. Here are some quotes from the former Pittsburgh Penguin and New Jersey Devil, courtesy of BlueshirtsUnited.com.
Rupp, 31, said he chose the Rangers because they showed immediate interest in acquiring him, something any player no doubt enjoys from the team they may be playing for.
“You head into free agency with an idea of what you’d like and what you’re looking for where you think a good fit would be, and the Rangers were right at the top of my list,” said Rupp, who scored nine goals last season with the Penguins. “They showed right from the start that they had interest in me. That was important.”
Rupp said he always enjoyed playing games at Madison Square Garden as a member of the opposition, and looks forward to playing his home games in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
“I really relished coming into New York as an opposing player,” he said. “I really loved that. It was like you against the rest of the world. It was such an obstacle to win hockey games in New York, yet I had some of my better hockey games in New York.
“Now I look at it from the other side,” he added, “and if you can get those fans behind you, I can only imagine it will be the place to win hockey games on the home side.”
Rupp remembers entering the NHL with the Devils in 2003, and how easy the Rangers were to play against. Those days are gone, as the Rangers have become one of the more difficult teams to outwork in the NHL. The personification of that style is Ryan Callahan, a player Rupp said he has great respect for.
“The last couple years this Rangers team could be losing and you can’t count them out,” said Rupp. “We (the Penguins) lost some heartbreakers against them last year. And Ryan Callahan is a player I have looked at from across the way and have admired as a perfect guy to follow because he plays a way that you can’t help but respect. And he sets the example for a team that plays extremely hard.”
Rupp said his play style is representative of the Atlantic division, the division he’s spent his entire eight-year NHL career. He’s a gritty, hard-nosed player who isn’t afraid to drop the gloves with anyone in the league. He won’t blow you away with skill, but he can put some pucks in the net as well.
“I came into the league as an overall raw talent,” said Rupp, “and I’ve been kind of a late bloomer in a lot of aspects, but I’ve come around and developed an all-around kind of game that I didn’t have early on in my career.”
Rupp added his past two seasons in Pittsburgh were the two best thus far in his career, and he believes there is more to come. “I think one of my biggest assets is my versatility. I am willing, and able, to do a lot of different things for a hockey club.”
Finally, Rupp said he chose New York because he has a desire to win another Stanley Cup, and this team is moving towards that goal each year.
“I just look at this Rangers’ team as one that is headed in the right direction,” said Rupp, who won a Cup in 2003 with the Devils. “I am ready to be a part of taking that next step together.”