Rupp, Martin on the first two months, Pat Burns and the Devils - 12-09-10

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Mike Rupp and Paul Martin share a common bond  in that they each played for former Devils head coach Pat Burns who passed away last month following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Rupp spent parts of two season with Burns. As a rookie, he won the Cup with Burns in 2002-03. Martin joined Rupp and Burns as a rookie in 2003-04.

Each player recently discussed their time with Burns, their play through the first two months of the season and the current struggles of their former team.


Comparing 2009-10 to 2010-11:

"Yeah, I’d say it’s been a little different. Every player goes through a time… I don’t want to slumping… but maybe not feeling their best. I’m trying to work through that now."

On having limited time with the top three lines this season in comparison to 2009-10:

"Yeah, I’d say it’s been a little different. Every player goes through a time… I don’t want to slumping… but maybe not feeling their best. I’m trying to work through that now."

On his current role with the fourth line:

"We have guys who are playing pretty well. I think it’s good to have the versatility that our team has. I think I fall into that category where I’m versatile to jump up like that. I’m confident that if there’s an opportunity or something that presents itself, that I would like to have my game where it needs to be to move up. Right now, it’s just a matter of trying to get a little bit more consistent with my game."

Is his lack of production a symptom of playing on the fourth line:

"Probably. I think so. I don’t really pay much attention to that. I feel like my value to the team is beyond those numbers. I’m not really looked to for that. So anything of that is a bonus. I need to play a certain way. Then if those opportunities come and play on those lines, usually you’re able to get a few points."

On Pat Burns:

"Everybody that’s part of a Cup-winning team shares a special bond. Pat was a guy, as a coach, (I didn’t) appreciate until I was gone from there. He was a tough-love kind of guy and as a young guy coming into the league, he was really hard on me, but I know it was for the better and I learned a lot from him. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy. I definitely appreciate that. He was a very fair coach. If you’re playing hard in the first period, you were definitely going to play a lot that night. He was a guy who wore his heart on his sleeve."

Former Penguin Hal Gill said Burns wasn't intimidating to rookies... He was intimidating to everybody. Is that accurate:

"I think so. I think my second or third game there, I was playing fourth line. I had a couple of goals and a fight in a couple of games so I felt pretty good about myself. We were playing against Carolina at home. It was in between periods. I didn’t feel like I did anything blatantly wrong out there, but our team as a whole, we weren’t playing very well. I’m feeling like he’s not going to come after me, I didn’t really play much. He came right at me and started screaming at me. He told me he’d put me on a bus so fast back to Albany my head would scream. It woke me up. We played pretty well, my line. We got a win. He kept you on your toes always."

Are you surprised at how the Devils are struggling this season:

"I think their team is a dangerous team. I’m not convinced this is what you’re going to see all year. I think they have a group of guys and a culture with that organization where they’re going to win hockey games. That’s a team that could very easily get on a role and win a few games in a row."


Have you adjusted to the team's systems after two months?

"Yeah, I think so. Early on, there’s a lot thrown at you. Now you realize where you fit and what your role is. Right now, I think we’re all comfortable with it. Now it just comes to executing and playing the game."

Is gaining the zone on a power play a lot tougher than it looks to the casual observer:

"Yeah, it can be. There’s always adjustments in every game. You have to adjust a little bit and make plays to get in the zone because it a big part."

On Burns:

"I had him that first year. I liked him as a coach. For me, we didn’t talk a lot. There was a couple of rookies that year, he left us alone. He was patient with us which was good for us. Towards the end of the year, we had a couple of dinners with him before the playoffs. Once you get to know him, he care about you. Meant well. As far as the game goes, he was stern and expected a lot. It was a good rookie season for me and I learned a lot."

On Burns' treatment of rookies:

"With me and (former Devils defenseman) David Hale, he was patient with us. I’m sure there were times where he really wanted to. There was times where he would yell at us to make a play or something but I never think it was a full rip section."

Are you surprised at how the Devils are struggling this season:

"A little bit. It is early, but that’s a tough hole to be in. They have the guys there that have won before. They know what it takes to turn it around. They’re missing (forward Zach) Parise. Maybe they’ll turn it around."

(Photos: Mike Stobe/Getty Images; Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images; Rusty Kennedy/Associated Press; Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

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