The X marks NHL veteran Rupp’s next stop

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 6, 2013 - 4:13 PM

The well-traveled Mike Rupp is eager to join the Wild, his sixth team in the past 10 years.

 

It's easy to forget when a player is traded how their life is turned upside down.

Within 90 minutes of being notified Monday that he was being traded to the Rangers, Darroll Powe was in a cab on his way to the Phoenix airport for a flight to New York.

Mike Rupp, the player the Wild got in return for Powe and Nick Palmieri, had to go home to say goodbye to his family.

Rupp and his wife, Christi, have four children, including a 10- and an 8-year-old.

"The hardest thing was putting them to bed last night. We all got a little emotional because you know I'm not going to see them for a few months," Rupp said. "It's tough, but it's what we signed up for. But before you knew it, my daughter [Maddie] started drawing pictures of the Wild logo and writing facts about the state of Minnesota."

Rupp, 33, will join his sixth team in 10 years Wednesday morning for his first practice in a Wild sweater. His debut could come Thursday against Vancouver.

"It happens so fast, but it's funny how quickly you just turn your sights to what lies ahead, and that's coming here and playing in a place where there's an excitement for hockey all the time and being a part of what's going on here," Rupp said.

Rupp should feel comfortable stepping into the Wild room. He played with Zach Parise for three years in New Jersey. And coach Mike Yeo, a longtime assistant with Pittsburgh, coached Rupp for one of his two years with the Penguins.

Rupp scored a career-high 13 goals that season (2009-10).

"My years in Pittsburgh were two of my most enjoyable years playing hockey," said Rupp, a native of Cleveland. "They made it a place where everybody was accountable. It was fun coming to the rink. Playing under Dan Bylsma and Mike Yeo, you were just excited to come to practice every day.

"I know that's just how [Yeo] is and how he coaches, and I would expect it's the same thing here. I'm just looking forward to battling for Mike and my new teammates."

Because the Wild plays a similar system to the Penguins, it shouldn't take long for the 6-5, 243-pound Rupp to accustom himself.

"I just remember practices were real up-tempo and the way the game was played was just getting north with the puck as quick as you could," Rupp said.

The Wild acquired Rupp to bring a physical element to the lineup and to add a size dimension down low in the offensive zone.

"Obviously most people wouldn't say I play a pretty game or anything, but the one thing my strength has been in my career is my forechecking and holding onto pucks in the offensive zone," Rupp said.

"When you do that, you're able to create some offensive chances when you get on a line that works well together below the hash marks in the offensive zone. There's not much better defense than keeping a team 180 feet away from your goal."

  • WILD MIKE RUPP

    Up next: 7 p.m. Thursday vs. Vancouver • Xcel Energy Center • TV: FSN (100.3-FM)

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