The New Guys

There are a handful of new faces on the Penguins as they get set to open defense of their Stanley Cup title.



Mike Rupp had his sights set on the Penguins, but he wasn't sure that the Penguins had their sights set on him. "I was kind of bummed to think that it may not happen, but my agent told me that the Penguins called him right away when free agency opened," he says. "I was pretty flattered by that."

Rupp is one of just a handful of new faces on the Penguins as they get set to open defense of their Stanley Cup title. Another is 31-year-old defenseman Jay McKee, who's entering his 14th NHL season and was signed after being let go by St. Louis. He says he had no other goal than to sign with the Penguins. "I was certainly hoping", McKee says. "You can want to go to certain teams, but unless they want your services and believe in you as a player and have a need for you in their line-up, you could be out of luck." So, as he concludes, "It was really a no-brainer for me when Mr. Shero showed he was interested."

And that would be Penguins' G-M Ray Shero, who's become adept at finding interchangeable parts to fit in around his core of young stars. When such good players as defenseman Rob Scuderi leave in free agency, others like McKee are brought in to take their place.

"Every summer you're going to lose parts of your team," McKee says, "but I think they did their best to fill in those spots with similar players, and I think that's why I resulted in being here."

Like Scuderi, McKee is a veteran, defense-first defenseman. He's a good penalty-killer with a physical edge - the kind of player who goes unnoticed in most cities, but who becomes a cult hero in Pittsburgh. "It's a blue-collar town", he notes. "It's the type of town that likes hard workers, people who scrap and fight for everything they get, and that's certainly what they're going to get in myself."

Rupp is a big, physical forward who'd spent most of his six-year career with New Jersey. He grew up in Cleveland and lives in Erie, so he has a pretty fair idea of what makes Pittsburgh fans tick. "The town loves the hard-nosed, in-your-face, knock-'em-down style of football, and hockey is pretty similar to their liking," Rupp says. "My job is to make it hard to play against my team and to work hard and finish my checks.

That's a style that's sure to be embraced in his new city. Of course, those same fans have come accustomed to seeing winning hockey, too. The Penguins have done a pretty fair job of succeeding without the new guys, and so fitting into the team is the first order of business. "I'm coming into a situation where a team has just won a Stanley Cup," Rupp says. "I'm just going to come in, be myself and see where I settle in."

As McKee puts it, "I don't want to come in and change the chemistry." He knows that some leadership comes with the territory when you've played almost as many games as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal combined. As he clarifies, "I want to try to come in and fill the role that was left voided, and try to do that to the best of my ability."

The gifted group of young Penguins wasn't exactly getting pushed around in the first place, but McKee and Rupp were brought in to fill definite roles and will add a little more toughness to the team. Their situations are a little more clear-cut than that of another player expected to become a regular this year - defenseman Alex Goligoski.

Goligoski is a talented young offensive defenseman, and unlike McKee and Rupp, will need no introductions to his Penguins teammates. Goligoski skated in 45 regular season games and two playoff games for the Pens last season, filling in both times for an injured Sergei Gonchar.

Gologoski has the ability to be an excellent player, and though he knows he still has to earn a spot in training camp, he acknowledges that knowing his teammates will help him play his best hockey. "That can be a big thing. As far as comfort level going into camp, it should be easier this time around."

There's no telling how long Rupp or McKee will be in Pittsburgh, but Goligoski could well become part of the nucleus that Shero builds around in future years. It's a notion that excites the young blue-liner. "Definitely," he affirms. "There are a lot of good young players, and so you know that Pittsburgh's going to be a good team for a really long time, so it's exciting to be a part of the organization."

And that's a feeling that Goligoski, Rupp and McKee all have in common.

Rob King's versatility places him in the studio or at the game for FSN Pittsburgh. He brought his enthusiasm for sports to the 'Burgh in 2000 after having spent the previous five years in Syracuse, where he was the sports director at CBS affiliate WTVH and hosted a radio show on WHEN-AM. Before that, Rob spent 21/2 years as a reporter at KPLR-TV in St. Louis and also hosted a radio show on KFNS-AM. He's a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where he was an all-conference quarterback.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

Pittsburgh could be well on its way to replicating one of Hollywood’s most prominent landmarks.
Where in Pittsburgh to Dump Your Old TV or Computer

Where in Pittsburgh to Dump Your Old TV or Computer

You are going to want to print this list and keep it handy.
Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Sports media company Whistle Sports documented Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon's recovery workout regime.
Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

The Heinz History Center’s World War II traveling exhibit focuses on western Pennsylvania’s ties to history.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Go subterranean at Laurel Caverns, the largest cave in Pennsylvania.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

Pittsburgh could be well on its way to replicating one of Hollywood’s most prominent landmarks.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

The beloved Pittsburgh institution will serve its last meal in April.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

Voodoo Brewery is an enticing alternative to the many chains in and around the Waterfront.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Happy to see warmer weather? This gorgeous winter wedding may actually have you missing the snow.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Looking for a unique piece? Inventory from Artistry, which closed up shop in the Strip District after more than 25 years in business, will be sold at auction this weekend.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

The university will hold an environmental camp at the end of June.

Comments