They have been fierce competitors, and they have been teammates. They have often dropped the gloves against one another (see photo from 2009), and also have been regular linemates. And now Mike Rupp and Arron Asham are both New York Rangers.
"Actually it's funny, he was my first NHL fight and probably the most I have ever fought an individual is him in my career," Rupp recently said of Asham. "I didn't really like him at first, but once I played with him I really grew to like him and really respect the way he plays."
Rupp and Asham were teammates in 2007-08 with the Devils and again during the 2010-11 season with the Penguins. The two played often on the same line in New Jersey and Pittsburgh, developing a very solid chemistry, both on and off the ice.
In fact while playing regularly with Asham two seasons ago, Rupp scored nine goals and totaled 17 points, the second highest totals for each category in his career.
"I have had some success playing with him," Rupp said. "And if that's the way the lines shake out this year, then I think we can have a fourth line that could add a little more production than we had last year."
The rugged Asham stands under six-feet tall, but weighs a solid 210 pounds and is not about to be pushed around by anyone in the league. He has accumulated 940 penalty minutes in 756 NHL games---while adding 92 goals and 216 points. Like Rupp, he is a player who understands his role as a gritty two-way pest, and who embraces that role.
"Asham is not the biggest guy, but he's one of the tougher guys I have fought in this league and played with in this league," explained Rupp, who is set to enter his second season with the Rangers in 2012-13. "He has that no-nonsense approach, the style we like to play here. He also has a great shot and can contribute some offense, too, so I think it's great we added him."
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