New York Hockey: Mike Rupp

With season over, work stoppage looms

May, 29, 2012
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Now that the Rangers' season is over, when will we see them next? That all depends on a potential labor stoppage that might threaten the start of next season, if not the entire season altogether.

With the current collective bargaining agreement due to expire Sept. 15, the NHLPA will meet this summer to determine priorities in hammering out a new pact while players' livelihoods hang in the balance.

Rangers player representative Brandon Dubinsky expressed confidence that an agreement can be reached.

"Obviously on the heels of playing, I'm sure there are going to be some discussions coming up. With me being the [NHLPA representative] for this team, moving forward, I think there is going to be some more discussions and stuff like that," Dubinsky said. "The big thing is, we just want to make sure that we find a way to get a fair deal done and we get a deal done, because that will be fair to the fans and the people out there."

Dubinsky said he thinks both sides will be looking to avoid a work stoppage like last time, when the entire 2004-05 season was forfeited.

"I'm confident that we'll be able to make that happen, especially after sort of how big a disaster it was the last time around," Dubinsky said. "I'm sure that both sides are a little more anxious to find a way to get something done. We'll be ready to play next year."

Many other Rangers hadn't even had time to consider the possibility of a jeopardized 2012-13 season with their postseason exit so fresh.

"I haven't thought about it, and I don't mean that taking it lightly," alternate captain Brad Richards said. "I've just been so enthralled that that'll come up as the summer goes. It's something I'll have more time to think about as this kind of wears off."

Said veteran Mike Rupp:

"We've obviously had some meetings with the PA, but I don't think we're really thinking about that in this room. You prepare and you go about it, take the same amount of time you normally take off, then you go about it as the summer progresses. We'll start meeting with the union and start talking about where things are at."

Those who will witness and experience labor negotiations for the first time plan to, as second-year defenseman Ryan McDonagh said, "remain informed to be able to make the best decisions."

Beyond gathering information, McDonagh said he will approach this season like business as usual.

I"ll just continue to prepare and train as if September 16 is our first day of work," McDonagh said. "That's the only way you can do it."

Rangers ready to 'embrace' challenge

May, 25, 2012
For a team with its back against the wall, the Rangers' room is about as calm and relaxed as on an off-day in November. Instead of feeling the crushing pressure of a potential season-ending loss, the team was loose in the hours before Game 6 on Friday.

Forward Artem Anisimov was joking about a coffee endorsement for his favorite brand, faking a stellar American accent and drawing laughs from local reporters. Brian Boyle cruised through, asking teammate Mike Rupp about his lunch plans. Players ambled off after a short morning skate in high spirits.

They did not appear hampered by any lingering doubt about how they'd respond against the Devils in their fourth do-or-die match of this postseason. After all, they have won all three previous games when facing elimination.

"It'd be exciting regardless, but I feel like we really established ourselves in that last game. We like what we saw when we did that. It's exciting. It's not going to be easy, but we know if we go out there," Rupp said, pausing, "with this team, when its back is against the wall, we just usually give our best effort, so we're pretty comfortable in that situation."

"We're a resilient group in here and we take pride in the little things that make a big difference," Rupp added. "When we're playing our way and get our momentum going, it's fun."

Even coach John Tortorella, whose fire-breathing rants have made headlines throughout this playoff run, seemed pretty serene in assessing his team's mindset.

"I think our team really embraces a challenge," he said. "You want to try to write things out the right way to have an easier road going through, but we don't. And as we've gone through the playoffs we've had some things we've had to get accomplished in tough ways. I think it's really good for the team, not only in the present but the future, so we take 'em as they come and this is just a fantastic opportunity for us."

Rupp: 'Those things happen in this game'

May, 22, 2012
Rangers center Mike Rupp suggested the roughing penalty called against him in the third period Monday sparked his outburst, although he didn't say why he jabbed Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.

"I felt like it was a situational call and I just responded that moment and that was that," Rupp said Tuesday, following the team's practice at MSG. "Nothing else going into that but that, and those things happen in this game and not really much more than that."

With the Rangers trailing 3-0 in the third period, Rupp leveled Pater Harrold behind the Devils' net and the referees called a penalty. Rupp proceeded to shove Anton Volchenkov and then took a jab at Brodeur, inciting a ruckus between the teams.

Rupp received a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct. He said he was surprised to be penalized for his hit, and that there were no words exchanged between him and Brodeur. Rupp has not tallied a point in the playoffs.

"It's a hockey game and some things happen in a moment, and [we're] just focused on this game tomorrow," Rupp said. "We need to win on home ice."

Rupp says he has not watched any highlights of his altercations, saying that it's not the storyline for the team as it heads into a pivotal Game 5. He added that the team's performance at the time did not play a role in why he reacted that way.

"In those two seconds, no, I don't have the time to really think about anything. It's a reaction, and I actually thought we had been playing pretty good in the second period and stretches of the third," Rupp said. "It's one of those things."

Monday night's game marked the most notable occasion of the Rangers losing their cool, a stark contrast to the usual business-like nature of the team. The center and his teammates are not concerned about a loss of composure carrying over.

"It's something that comes up," forward Ryan Callahan said. "It happens in the playoffs. You run on emotions. It's part of it. And we obviously have to stay out of the box more. They got a good power play, and [to] go into the box that many times, you're not going to win a game."

While the Rangers didn't much energy throughout the course of the game, they certainly showed fight, with their players not afraid to mix it up. Rupp said it's going to take more than physical altercations to get the team going, though.

"We know what we got in this room," Rupp said. "I don't know if we have to do things to let them know."

Rupp: Game 7's are "special"

May, 12, 2012
Mike Rupp will play in his sixth career Game 7 playoff match Saturday and the excitement has yet to wane for the veteran forward.

"It just feels different," Rupp said after the Rangers' morning skate. "Like it's a birthday or something, just a special day on the calendar. You approach it in the same way but we all know what a special night and opportunity it is for players to play in a Game 7."

Rupp has played in some memorable deciding games -- he tallied the clinching goal to secure the Stanley Cup for the New Jersey Devils in 2003 -- and knows what to expect from the nerves and emotions.

But he witnessed a calm group following the team's morning practice -- Bob Marley was humming from the dressing room speakers -- and believes that to be a good sign heading into tonight's test.

"It's important to be loose and joking around and our team has a lot of that going on, so that's a good thing," Rupp said. "I found when I was younger, I'd kind of gauge the older guys and see how they were. I think you could go out and get too fired up, so you have to channel that in a certain way."

Rupp is not the only Rangers veteran with a handful of Game 7's on his resume; Ruslan Fedotenko has also played in five and boasts a pristine 5-0 record with three goals and one assist.

• • •

Although goaltender Henrik Lundqvist did not participate in the team's optional morning skate, as he usually does, coach John Tortorella said he was "just dandy."

• • •
Brandon Dubinsky has shed the walking boot he was wearing on his injured right foot and although he politely declined to discuss his timeline, appears to be making progress. Given his time off the ice, however, it is unlikely he'd be able to play at any point during the Eastern Conference finals should the Rangers advance.

• • •

Washington's Jay Beagle, who missed Game 6 with a lower-body injury, is a "game-time decision" according to Caps coach Dale Hunter. Should he be unavailable to play, veteran pivot Jeff Halpern will replace him in the lineup.

Players appreciate Tortorella's "passion"

April, 6, 2012
John Tortorella's expletive-filled rant following his team's 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh likely caught the attention of defenseman Brooks Orpik, coach Dan Bylsma, and the entire Penguins organization.

It also elicited a response from his own players.

"I like the fact that he is passionate about the players on this team," veteran Mike Rupp said. "I think it goes a long way in this room."

Tortorella ripped Orpik for his third-period knee-to-knee hit on Rangers' center Derek Stepan, calling it "cheap" and "dirty," and said players' lack of respect for each other is "sickening."

Stepan's injury does not appear to be too serious, but with Orpik looking like he will escape any supplementary discipline for the play, the Rangers can take some comfort in knowing he wasn't let off the hook completely.

Having been on the receiving end of plenty of Tortorella's outbursts, they know it's not the most pleasant experience.

"It just show his passion for the team and his passion for winning," said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "He's been intense with us and honest the whole time. What he's saying to us, he's saying to you guys. There's no games with him."

After the game, goaltender Martin Biron said he considered going after Orpik. But his coach took care of that instead, and then some. Tortorella also called out the Penguins as an "arrogant organization" and lambasted their two star players Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby for their "whining."

His choice words may have ruffled feathers in Pittsburgh, but they had a galvanizing effect in the Rangers' locker room.

"You're a team, a family, an organization," Biron said. "Everybody feels like we want to back one another, and the coach being on the players' side is definitely something you want. He would go to war for anyone in this locker room and I think that the same goes [for us]."

Rangers eye Presidents' Trophy

April, 6, 2012
The Rangers have already clinched a playoff berth and the best record in the Eastern Conference, but the coveted Presidents' Trophy remains up for grabs.

Should they beat the Capitals on Saturday in what may very well be a preview of their first-round matchup, the Rangers will claim the trophy for the first time since the 1993-94 Stanley Cup-winning season.

The Presidents' Trophy is awarded each year to the team that finishes atop the league's regular-season standings. With only one game left, the Rangers are tied with the Vancouver Canucks at 109 points. If both teams win on Saturday, New York owns the tiebreaker by virtue of the team's 47 non-shootout wins.

The promise of a deep playoff run beckons, but the Rangers hope to use the Presidents' Trophy as motivation to cap their successful season accordingly.

"It puts us in a situation to end [the regular season] in the right way," veteran Mike Rupp said. "And it throws out the excuses that there's nothing to play for. There is."

St. Louis may also challenge the Rangers and Canucks for top honors; the Blues trail both teams by two points but have a game in hand. They face a back-to-back set this weekend against Phoenix on Friday and Dallas on Saturday.

This Rangers squad has drawn comparisons to the 1993-94 Cup-winning team throughout the season, and as the accomplishments add up, they hope they can match their predecessors' feat come June.

"It's just another goal to accomplish on our way to the ultimate goal here," said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "Obviously, coming off a loss [on Thursday], we want to get back to the momentum of winning and feeling good about ourselves."

The Rangers enter Saturday’s match against the Capitals coming off a decisive 5-2 loss against the Penguins.

Not the ideal way to enter the playoffs.

Winning the Presidents' Trophy could change that entirely.

"I'm with the team," coach John Tortorella said. "We want to win that hockey game. It's our last game before we really get going. I think there is a little bit of an incentive there, so we want to win that hockey game. Including me."

Bounce-back opportunity awaits in Boston

January, 19, 2012

For a team that has been characterized by resilience and consistency throughout the season, the Rangers are struggling to stabilize after a handful of up-and-down performances.

The Rangers' 4-1 loss to the Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Thursday was their third in the last five games. Not a terrible effort, but one decided by a couple mental mistakes in the third period -- what coach John Tortorella characterized as some "brain-dead reads."

"They fed it to us in the third," he said.

Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin tallied twice in a three-goal third period for the Penguins, who snapped a 1-1 draw on a pivotal sequence 2:23 into play.

A bad pinch by defenseman Marc Staal allowed Richard Park to convert on a 3-on-1 rush for the Penguins, beating Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist short-side for his fourth goal of the season and a 2-1 Pittsburgh lead.

"They made a quick play. I was going down when they were coming up and it was the wrong read," said Staal, who played a season-high of 26:02 in his ninth game back following a nine-month absence from post-concussion symptoms.

The Rangers' saving grace through the first half has been their ability to respond to adversity, and while they didn't have an answer for the Penguins on Thursday, they'll have to dig in facing a tough task this weekend.

The 29-12-4 Blueshirts travel to Boston to take on the Stanley Cup champion Bruins, who beat the New Jersey Devils 4-1 Thursday to whittle the Rangers' three-point lead in the Eastern Conference standings to one.

"Obviously we need a bounce-back game," defenseman Dan Girardi said. "I feel like we've been having to mwany of those lately, with a win and a loss and a win and a loss, but it's the same story. We need a bounce-back game and there's no better opponent."

And if the Rangers come out stale like they did in the opening minutes of Thursday's game, they'll have to pay the price.

"I think you have to be ready or they'll embarrass you,” veteran Mike Rupp said. "We can't be happy with our game tonight. It really gets you to buckle down because in a short period of time here we're playing a pretty hot team -- a very good team -- and it's a good measuring stick for us."

What makes the Bruins so good?

"They don't lack anything, I don't think. I thought that last year before the playoffs, and they're just one of those teams that when they get going they're a dangerous team," Rupp said. "They have no flaws to the way they're put together.

"It's a challenge, and it's a good one. I like the way we're built, too, so it's a good challenge."

Training camp preview: New York Rangers

September, 15, 2011
The New York Rangers, who open camp Friday, made a hasty exit from the playoffs last season, losing in five games to the Washington Capitals. They hope some key offseason signings will help them become Stanley Cup contenders this year.

Main storylines

1. Spotlight on Richards: The Rangers were big winners in July when they lured coveted free agent Brad Richards to New York with a nine-year, $60 million deal. The addition of Richards gives them the dynamic first-line center they lacked last season -- someone who can be counted on to produce offensively and distribute the puck.

2. More from Gaborik: The team also hopes Richards can coax the most out of sniper Marian Gaborik, who is expected to flank him on the right wing. After a career season in 2009-10 -- 42 goals and 86 points -- the 29-year-old winger scored only 22 goals last season and was incredibly streaky. Ten of his goals were scored in three games, all against non-playoff teams. If the Rangers want to do damage in the playoffs, they need him to score -- when it counts.

3. Third defensive pairing: Defense was a strength for the Rangers last season, and given the youth on the back end, it will be for years to come. Top-pair defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi were counted on to match up against opponents' top lines all year, and they had a tandem of solid young blue-liners behind them in Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer. Young defensemen Tim Erixon, Michael Del Zotto and 27-year-old Steve Eminger will battle for the fifth and sixth spots. Brendan Bell could also garner a look, although he will likely be used as a call-up guy from Hartford.

New additions

C Brad Richards: The 31-year-old veteran will feel the burden of the monster contract he signed and the expectation that goes with it, but he's a proven scoring threat with a Stanley Cup championship on his résumé.

LW Mike Rupp: the 6-5, 230 pound bruiser, who racked up 124 penalty minutes with Pittsburgh last season, will add size and toughness to the Rangers' fourth line. The 31-year-old former Devil will also be a high-character veteran presence in the room.

D Tim Erixon: The Rangers traded for the 20-year-old Swedish defenseman in June in what might soon be regarded as a steal. As the son of former NHL'er Jan Erixon, Tim has a strong hockey IQ and the potential to be effective on the power play.

Wild card

Ryan Bourque, son of NHL legend Ray Bourque, is likely to start the season with the team's AHL affiliate in Hartford, but the 20-year-old forward stood out among his peers and impressed many during a recent prospect tournament in Traverse City, Mich.

Bottom line

By developing a strong group of young players and adding key free agents to complement that core, the Rangers have the talent and skill to be dangerous in the future. What remains to be seen is whether they can make the next stop now.

Rangers don't make a splash on day one

July, 2, 2011
The first 12 hours of free agency have come and gone and the New York Rangers were rather quiet in the first day. While, everything can change with the signing of Brad Richards, who they are heavily interested in, the Rangers took a much quieter approach on the first day.

The Rangers first signed ex-Pittsburgh center Mike Rupp, reportedly agreeing to a three-year, $4.5 million deal. While Rupp won’t light up the scoreboard at MSG, he will bring some toughness and grit that has become part of the Rangers identity. The signing looks like it could be a solid, low-cost move that helps the team’s depth.

While the Rangers went out and got Rupp, they retained one of their own with the re-signing of Ruslan Fedotenko. It’s a reported one-year, $1.4 million deal, according to TSN, and gives the Rangers another capable body. Fedotenko notched 25 points last season and bringing him back really has no downside.

Of course, the Rangers hoped their first day of free agency would include the top free agent on the market, but Richards has not yet made up a decision. If the Rangers can land the center, the Rupp and Fedotenko signings suddenly become the lesser deals of the summer. If the Rangers don’t land Richards, they might have to become creative to try and upgrade the roster.

Let’s see what day two of free agency holds in store.