Brian Burke loves ‘surly’ Rupert twins
By John Matisz
PITTSBURGH, PA — There’s two types of players Brian Burke focused on at the 2012 NHL draft: Puck-moving defenders and gritty forwards.
The London Knights provided the latter, as 17-year-old forward Ryan Rupert was selected in the sixth round (157th overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Grand Bend native was the sixth and final Knight chosen at the two-day event in Pittsburgh.
“This kid’s a junkyard dog,” Burke said of Rupert, adding brother Matt will also receive an invite to the Leafs summer prospect camp.
The rough-and-tumble style of play the Ruperts exert is right up Burke’s alley; he is known for drafting, signing and trading for two-way agitator types. Neither twin was ranked by NHL Central Scouting Bureau heading into the draft, which made Toronto’s selection a bit of a surprise to most draft experts.
Nevertheless, there’s certain qualities about the no-frills Ruperts that caught the attention of at least one NHL team.
“They haven’t let their size hold them back from anywhere they’re playing,” Burke said of their slight 5-foot-8 frames. “They only have one gear and it’s high; they only have one attitude and it’s surly.”
Rupert gives Leafs an edge
By Ryan Pyette
London Free Press
Brian Burke’s brand new junkyard dog has never been to a Maple Leafs game.
“But we’re all Toronto fans,” said London Knights forward Ryan Rupert. “We watched them every Saturday night on the CBC.”
So you can imagine the uproar in their Grand Bend household and all the way to familiar family stomping grounds like Exeter when the Buds made Ryan, a poster boy for pugnacity and truculence, a sixth-round pick at the NHL draft this past Saturday in Pittsburgh.
“I was watching at home on the NHL Network and he (GM Burke) called me five minutes after I was drafted and told me he was happy to have me in the organization,” the gritty 18-year-old said.”
It’s no surprise who Rupert’s favourite Leaf was growing up.
“Darcy Tucker,” he said. “I think there’s some comparisons in our games.”
The scrappy former Leaf was a sixth-round pick, too, in 1993, originally belonging to the Montreal Canadiens.
Burke has made a recent habit of picking Knights players.
He took Nazem Kadri with Toronto’s first selection three years ago and added Greg McKegg, while he was still with the Erie Otters, in 2010. Rupert’s twin brother Matt, who went undrafted, has been invited to the Leafs development camp, which begins next week.
“I think he’s going to accept,” Ryan said.
There is some additional pressure to belonging to a team with the history of the Leafs and the angst of their fans. But since the moment their OHL careers started last season, the throwback Ruperts haven’t let a whole lot affect their play.
“It’s the hockey capital,” Ryan said. “I’m excited. I’m going to go there and start proving people wrong.”