Mike Rupp has a beautiful piece of jewelry at home, a symbolic reminder of the biggest goal of his hockey career that led to his most celebrated night in the NHL.
But he’ll be damned if he takes it out of the box.
It’s a diamond-encrusted Stanley Cup ring with the New Jersey Devils logo in the middle of it, won by Rupp and the Devils in 2003 after he scored the deciding goal in Game 7 of the final against the Anaheim Ducks.
Rupp, a 6-foot-5, 243-pound winger, signed a three-year contract with the New York Rangers last summer. He dislikes the Devils now as much as any other New Yorker.
"That thing is put away," Rupp said of the ring. "I have not looked at it for a while. I think it’s something I will cherish more once I am done playing."
He won’t turn the ring over in his hands and remember that dance with the Devils. But Rupp will recall the overall experience, even though he played in just four playoff games that spring.
"That was my first year in the league, and to able to win a Cup, I thought I was going to be playing for it multiple times," said Rupp, who had one goal in 56 other playoff games before Monday night. "And this is the first time I have got back to the final four.
"You have to take advantage of it because you never know when you will get a chance like this again. Once you win it, you have that feeling that burns even more in you and you want to get back there."
Since 2003, Rupp has played for the Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, the Devils (again) and the Pittsburgh Penguins before landing in Manhattan. He had this past season to get re-accustomed to the intense rivalry between the Devils and Rangers, and he loves being a part of it.
"I have taken the train in and after a Devils/Rangers game you just hear the chants going from side to side, down waiting by the tracks," Rupp said. "It’s exciting to see all of that outside the building. In Newark, to have all the Rangers fans show up, to have Devils fans show up at MSG, it should be a really passionate series."
One Devil who Rupp doesn’t mind discussing is goaltender Martin Brodeur.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him," Rupp said. "He is a real pro. It didn’t matter if you were a rookie or not, he was a very approachable guy. Sometimes you might think because of his platform, he would not be that way, but he is. And he’s a great goalie."