Penguins forwards Mike Rupp and Maxime Talbot know a little something about playing the hero role.
Rupp starred for the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, notching a goal and two assists as the Devils defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 3-0, to capture the Cup.
Talbot forever etched his name into Penguins’ lore on June 12, 2009 when he tallied both Pittsburgh goals to help secure the Penguins’ third Stanley Cup championship in a 2-1 Game 7 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
This weekend Rupp and Talbot will be heroes once again – this time for their work off the ice.
Rupp and Talbot are members of a small contingent traveling to Haiti this Saturday through Monday to visit kids at an orphanage run by team Chaplin Brad Henderson. Former Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Sean Casey will also be attending.
“Brad started an orphanage there about 12 years ago,” Rupp said. “He has shared with us what goes on there. He went there for an extended period this past season. He came back, showed us pictures and talked about what goes on there.”
“We are very excited to be able to join Brad for a couple of days this time to experience what it is like at the orphanage firsthand,” Talbot said. “This is something we are all excited to experience.”
The Penguins’ contingent expects to arrive in Haiti midday on Saturday. They plan to take some street hockey equipment, t-shirts provided to Talbot by Reebok, silly bands Rupp has picked up and other small items to distribute at the orphanage.
“It is a really short trip since we are getting there midday on Saturday and leaving on Monday,” Talbot said. “We are going to deliver some equipment and things to the kids. It’s going to be good for us to see what is going on.”
Although both Rupp and Talbot are among the Penguins who donate the most time to various charitable causes throughout the year, a trip like this one is the first such experience for both.
This is kind of an opportunity to go down there and see what is going on. My wife and I have been wanting to get involved with something like this for a while now, so I will have the chance to go down and see if this is something we want to get involved with in the future - Mike Rupp
“This is kind of an opportunity to go down there and see what is going on,” Rupp said. “My wife and I have been wanting to get involved with something like this for a while now, so I will have the chance to go down and see if this is something we want to get involved with in the future.”
“This is something new for me,” Talbot added. “This is my first time doing a trip like this. We are really fortunate to play hockey and live in countries like the United States and Canada, so it’s going to be interesting to see what is going on down there.”
While Rupp has never been on a missionary-type trip like this before, he and his wife do have experience dealing with impoverished children. The Rupps sponsor nine kids from countries ranging from Guatemala to Brazil, and he said the interaction his family has with those children is a very rewarding feeling.
“It’s really neat when you get the paperwork and my wife will go to the store to pick out stickers and things like that to send down to the kids,” Rupp said. “They send you pictures back with the stickers and it blows you away and makes you feel great.”
Rupp hopes his trip to Haiti leads to more such visits in the future.
“This is something that my family and I feel is very important – to give back to countries like this,” he said. “Hopefully someday I’ll be able to take my wife and kids with me on a trip like this. We really want to get our kids involved.”