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Murray and Rust reflect on growing up together

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

When Matt Murray and Bryan Rust went to dinner earlier this season, they started talking about their respective weddings that took place this summer. That led to them reflecting on how they've grown up together over the past several years, going from AHL roommates to Stanley Cup champions.

"We used to live together in Wilkes-Barre," Murray said. "To see us now, we're just like, 'Wow, we're both married now, we've come a long way. It's fun to grow up with guys like Rusty who I've been with for a long time."

Rust, who was drafted in 2010, and Murray, who was drafted in 2012, and first started getting to know each other in the spring of 2014 when they both joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on ATOs following the end of their respective seasons.

Rust, then 21, was coming from Notre Dame while Murray, then 19, was coming to WBS from Sault Ste. Marie. They ended up rooming in a hotel together as the Penguins played out the rest of their season, and became close friends in that short amount of time.

From there, the two of them stayed in touch throughout the summer and spent time together at development camp. When they returned to Pittsburgh for their first full professional seasons that fall, the subject of living together came up.

"The rest was history," Rust said.

They turned to the Internet for help finding a place, Googling different options and looking around town. At that point, it was the first time either of them was truly living on their own. And since they were on AHL salaries, they had to be more cognizant of what they spent.

"It helps out having a roommate to keep the cost down when you're finally paying rent on your own," Murray said. "You're not making a whole lot of money at that age."

They ended up finding a townhouse on the east side of Wilkes-Barre that was $800 a month, which ended up being $400 each. The two of them got a nine-month lease and lived there for the 2014-15 season. For the 2015-16 season, they rented the home of former WBS assistant equipment manager Teddy Richards, who is now the head equipment manager for the Florida Panthers.

Those two years went smoothly for the pair, who said their personalities just meshed and that they're both pretty neat and tidy, so they had no issues in that regard. When Rust wasn't playing video games, the two of them would watch movies or go for ice cream.

"Just kids killing time," Murray said with a smile.

They both are huge HGTV fans, with Rust joking that they never changed the channel. Though when it came to decorating their own place, it was more about the budget than the aesthetic. They went to Bob's Discount Furniture in Wilkes-Barre to pick out what was the "comfiest and/or cheapest," Rust said.

"We had a big TV stand, a giant TV and a giant couch," Rust said. "I'm not even sure if we had a coffee table. We had a decent kitchen table and some stools at the kitchen counter, but we probably ate on the couch most of the time."

When they weren't eating out, that is. While Rust would cook every once in a while, they went out for dinner most nights since Murray joked that he has no idea what he's doing in the kitchen.

"We would go everywhere," Murray said. "Applebee's, Smokey Bones and there were a couple of little local places that were really good that we went to all the time."

That first season, Murray spent all of it in WBS while Rust was back-and-forth to Pittsburgh. Rust appeared in 14 games with Pittsburgh, and as long as Murray didn't have a game of his own, he would be watching and supporting Rust. 

"When it's your roommate and one of your best buddies, you just want the best for them," Murray said. "I remember some of us would all get together at a restaurant and watch Rusty play or watch (Conor Sheary) play when he was called up. We were all pretty tight, so it was nice to watch each other."

That second season, Rust spent the latter half of the year in Pittsburgh. After a brief callup, Murray also became a permanent Pittsburgher in the end of February. Again, the rest was history - as they went on to help the Penguins capture the first of two back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. 

"It's pretty crazy, I think," Rust said. "I don't think we could have drawn it up any better. Came into the league, got a taste of winning and continued to be around and had both personal and professional success. It's definitely nice to see that."

In Pittsburgh, the two of them lived together along with the rest of the rookies in an extended-stay hotel close to downtown. They were spread out between a couple of floors and did everything together, from meals to video games to tourist activities around the city.

After Murray and Rust were told they could get permanent living spaces, they and their significant others ended up getting apartments in the same complex close to the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry. Once they became neighbors, Murray's now-wife Christina and Rust's now-wife Kelsey also formed a bond.  

"Those two got pretty close," Rust said. "Us and our wives go to dinner quite a bit."

And then when the team is traveling, Murray and Rust will go to dinner and their wives will do the same at home.

"It's tough for them," Murray said. "It's underrated how hard it is for them when we go on the road so much and they're on their own taking care of everything back here. It's good for them to have a community, too. The whole group of wives and girlfriends here is super tight. It's really nice for them to have."

And Rust, now 27, and Murray, now 25, are grateful that they've had each other this whole time as they've matured into successful professional hockey players.

"It's crazy, when I first met Rusty I would have been like 19," Murray said. "It's been six, seven years. It's crazy when I think about how we've played together for that long. I feel like we've had the same steps around the same times and kind of come up together and grown up together. We both got married this year and we're both still super tight. Our now-wives are both very good friends. It's just cool to have a guy like that, a guy that I feel like has been a really good friend for so long."

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