Rupp's Jagr-like salute rubs Flyers wrong way


New York Rangers center Mike Rupp ticked off a few Flyers last week when HBO microphones caught him calling enforcer Jody Shelley "irrelevant" in a Dec. 23 loss in Madison Square Garden.

But mocking Flyers right wing Jaromir Jagr with an emphatic salute after scoring his first of two goals in Monday's Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park?

"He's probably got the same amount of goals as Jags, right?" Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn said after seeing Rupp score his second and third goals of the season in New York's 3-2 win.

"So he can do a salute? I don't care. It is what it is. He got the last laugh because he got two goals."

For the record, Rupp, 31, now has 52 goals in 512 career games. Jagr, 39, has 658 goals in 1,306 career games.

Jagr smiled when asked what he thought of Rupp's celebration.

"We're still gonna play them three more times," he said, "and I think I'm gonna score and salute him back."

Rupp's first goal of the game came 14:51 into the second period, 30 seconds after Claude Giroux gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead. As he backpedaled toward the glass he removed his right hand from his glove and gave an emphatic salute to his bench.

Asked about it after the game, Rupp played coy.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

Asked a second time, he acknowledged the salute, saying, "No pre-thought, believe it or not. Just kind of excited in the moment."

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said the Rangers bench got a kick out of Rupp's salute.

"I think he was just having some fun out there," Girardi said. "I don't think he was being disrespectful. He was excited to score and we were pretty jacked on the bench, too."

Flyers winger Scott Hartnell didn't appreciate the gesture and before the start of the third period the two had words at center ice. According to NBC television analyst Darren Pang, Hartnell told Rupp to "show some respect. Jaromir Jagr is a Hall of Famer."

Rupp recalled a different conversation with Hartnell.

"He just wished me a Happy New Year and I did the same," Rupp said.

Asked if Hartnell was unhappy with his salute, Rupp said, "I honestly didn't know what he was saying. He was saying something and obviously wasn't happy with something, I don't know."

Rupp scored again 2:41 into the third periodhe finished with two goals on two shots in 13:46 of ice timebut refrained from saluting a second time.

Rupp, who fought Washington's John Erskine in last year's Winter Classic in Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, said his style is suited for outdoor games.

"The ice was awesome, a lot better than it was last year," he said. "But when the ice starts wearing it kind of gives guys like me more of an opportunity to get something ugly. My whole thinking is, if I get a chance to shoot, I'll shoot. I took two shots and they both went in."

Flyers center Max Talbot, who played with Rupp last season in Pittsburgh, said he wasn't ready to cast stones at his former teammate.

"I don't think Mike is a bad guy," Talbot said. "He was happy to score and he celebrated."

Coburn was not as diplomatic. The Flyers now must wait until Feb. 5 to face the Rangers again at the Garden and Coburn won't need to be reminded of Rupp's actions on Monday.

"I don't know if the salute is something that was premeditated on his part or what," Coburn said. "They won the game and he got two goals, so what can you say? We've got a rivalry brewing with these guys. There's some bad blood now."

Chuck Gormley covers the Capitals for E-mail him at

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