Mike Rupp

Publish date:
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

With Kevin Kennedy

I played in a house league in Cleveland, Ohio until I went to high school. Hockey was growing in Cleveland at the time and it was a lot of fun. I remember that every other year I was the younger age so that season was always tough, but the next season I knew I’d be older and still playing in the same division. I remember every other year would be my year.

I got into hockey because my neighbor was playing and I’d see him outside with a tennis ball and a stick shooting at the garage. Up until that moment, I don’t think I even knew what hockey was. I just started going over there and he’d give me a stick and we’d start playing around and then I told my mom and dad that I wanted to play hockey and so they signed me up for Learn to Skate and it kind of went from there.

I think I was more interested because none of my other friends were doing it and it was something different. I was also able to pick it up pretty quick so that helped as well.

I really started to appreciate hockey when I made the AAA team and we started to travel. I remember we’d go up to Michigan, Buffalo and even Toronto and I thought that was awesome.

We went to a tournament once in Windsor, Ont., and at the time I was one of the better players on my team. But I saw players at that tournament my age who were much better than me. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, I have a lot to do if I want to make the NHL.’

As a kid, that’s hard to handle because you really want to be the best, so that was a reality check for me and that’s when I started to take hockey more seriously.

When I was in high school I had a great coach named Bob Whidden. He was a goalie in the WHA for the Cleveland Crusaders back in the day. One day he asked me what I wanted to do with hockey. I said I wanted to play in the NHL and he told me if that was true I had to leave Cleveland. I was in Grade 11 and that was a wakeup call for me.

Bob had a connection with Bobby Orr and he flew in to Cleveland to watch one of my high school games. I signed with his agency and went to the Ontario League soon after.

As a kid I played all kinds of sports. I didn’t play hockey all year-round. I played baseball in the summer and basketball at the same time as hockey in the winter. I think playing different sports helped me.

I knew a lot of kids who played 365 days a year and they ended up not enjoying it and burning out. Even today I don’t skate over the summer. I stay fit and I work out, but I try and stay away from the rink for about two months. When training camp comes around I’m hungry to get back on the ice.

I also think that, if you just play hockey, you lose some athleticism that you can gain from playing other sports. It’s easy to become a one-sport robot, so in the summer I play a lot of basketball and throw the football around as well. Some guys in the NHL can’t even kick a soccer ball or dribble a basketball.

I want to be an athlete not just a hockey player.



This Vancouver Sweater Is Nearly 100 Years Old

And it's up for auction right now in what is believed to be a very rare piece of hockey history.


What if the Habs Had Received Owen Nolan in the Patrick Roy Deal?

On the 25th anniversary of Roy's last game with the Canadiens, we're left to wonder what would have been. Former GM Serge Savard claims in a book that he had a better deal in place for Roy.

20190927_VDOvsDRU_percee offensive Gaucher (VDO) et Nickl (DRU)

QMJHL Players Look Destined to Once Again Be Bubble Boys

The Quebec League postponed almost as many games as it played, then shut down a month early trying to play the conventional format and appears headed for bubble play again.