PHPA Feature:Bryan Rust
Excerpt from PHPA Article
On December 11, 2015, the Pittsburgh Penguins lost 3-2 in overtime at home against the Los Angeles Kings. While in a vacuum this may not seem that consequential of a loss, at the end of the day it had much larger implications. This loss would drop the Penguins to a pedestrian 15-10-3 record, their fifth loss in their previous seven games. This slide would be bearable for most teams, but not so for a Pittsburgh line-up with Stanley Cup aspirations. While the Penguins’ record wasn’t bad by most teams’ standards, the greater worry was the lack of cohesion between their key players. It was clear something needed to change.
Following the loss to the Kings, the Penguins would fire their Head Coach, and promote Mike Sullivan, from Pittsburgh’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton to be the team’s new bench boss. With the hiring of Sullivan, there was a golden opportunity for players who had been playing in Wilkes-Barre, who had come to impress and build a rapport with Sullivan, to get their shot at the NHL. By season’s end, Pittsburgh would receive valuable contributions from AHL Wilkes-Barre alumni such as Brian Dumoulin, Tom Kuhnhackl, Conor Sheary, and Matt Murray on their way to capturing the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup. And there are those who argue the team would not have had the success they did without the heroic playoff performance of another AHL call-up, Bryan Rust.
Rapid Fire Questions with Bryan Rust
1. Favourite team growing up?
“Being from Michigan, I’d have to go with the Red Wings”
2. Favourite athletes from any sport?
“Ironically Peter Forsberg. He was on the Avs and I got to see him a lot in their rivalry with the Wings. Not sure how that worked out. I was also a big Tiger Woods fan when I was getting into golf. Just as I was starting to understand the game coincided with the stretch where he was just so dominant. It was awesome to watch.”
3. What’s the weirdest thing a coach has ever said to you?
“There was a time when a coach told me to “do less”. Never heard it put that bluntly.”
4. Street hockey or pond hockey?
5. What’s your go-to pump up song?
“I don’t listen to a lot of music before the game. Whatever’s on in the locker room.”
6. Go-to offseason cheat-day meal?
“McDonalds Big Mac Meal and a double cheese burger.”
7. What’s your favourite road city?
“Haven’t been to all of them yet. Montreal was pretty cool. Back in Detroit in front of all of my family and friends is always pretty sweet.”
8. What’s your favourite show to binge-watch?
“Friday Night Lights”
9. Who is the toughest player you’ve fought?
10. What’s your go-to penalty shot/shootout move?
“Usually fake a shot, pull to my backhand and try and roof it.”
Rust on how coach Sullivan was able to turn the season around:
“When coach Sullivan came in, he instilled a new mindset and a workman attitude. He had so much passion everyday at the rink that it became contagious. When us young guys got called up, we meshed well with the older guys. They brought the experience and the knowledge of the game. They were such great leaders while us young guys tried to bring an enthusiasm to the game everyday and just kind of meshed well. Everyone had fun and worked hard at the rink everyday.”
The Other Article
When I interviewed Rust, it was about a week and a half ago, before he had his day with the Cup. Just my luck NHL.com releases an excellent feature by Nicholas J. Cotsonika just a few days before I get mine out. If you want to find out how Rust eventually spent his day with the Cup, checkout the link below: