Friends reunited in New York
Copp teaming up with Trouba again after trade to Rangers
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/03/2022 (254 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
No matter how much time passes, Andrew Copp and Jacob Trouba always seem to find each other.
The Michiganders are together again in the Big Apple, following an NHL trade-deadline-day transaction Monday that sent Copp from the Winnipeg Jets to the New York Rangers.
“(Friends since) 10 years old,” Copp told reporters in Newark, N.J., Tuesday morning. “The last three years were the first years without each other. He takes credit for me being in the NHL to begin with. So, now it’s like I’m following him around.”
New York sent forward prospect Morgan Barron, two conditional second-round picks and a 2023 fifth-round pick to Winnipeg for the multi-purpose forward.
Copp and Trouba were teammates in Winnipeg for four NHL seasons (2015-19) until the Rochester product was swapped for fellow blue-liner Neal Pionk in an off-season transaction.
“It’ll be awesome. Obviously, you know, really close friends, (I) stood in his wedding last year, so it’ll be fun to spend some time together again,” said Copp, 27, prior to making his Rangers debut in a battle with the host New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.
Copp and Trouba — both born in ‘94 — grew up playing minor hockey together in Detroit’s Compuware AAA league and then spent two years with the U.S. national development team (2010-12)
They helped the United States win a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF under-18 world championship in the Czech Republic. Later that year, they each made their starts with the University of Michigan Wolverines program.
Trouba turned pro after his freshman season, while Copp shone for two more years under head coach Red Berenson before joining his longtime buddy in the Manitoba capital.
Copp was selected by Winnipeg in the fourth round (104 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, scoring 74 goals and assisting on 110 others in 467 regular-season games. He also added 12 points (3G, 9A) in 34 playoff contests.
The Ann Arbor native said a reunion with Trouba and Tyler Motte — another Michigan guy who was also acquired by the Rangers on Monday — took some of the sting out of leaving the organization that drafted and developed him.
“Yeah, it was weird. I’m a little overwhelmed,” said Copp. “Having Motter and Troubs, guys I basically consider brothers, that are here makes that transition a lot easier. But being in a place for seven years, it was tough saying goodbye to some people (Monday).
“Yeah, getting into a game right away is probably the best way to kind of get to know guys a little bit, and try and wear off the new as quickly as possible. Just kind of get into the flow of things and get into a rhythm.”
Copp signed a one-year, US$3.64-million contract with Winnipeg last summer to avoid salary arbitration but becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season.
A trade to a contender didn’t come as a shock, he said.
“You know, some of the teams that were rumoured to be interested, were, you know, top NHL teams, so that makes you excited,” said Copp. “It was kind of up and down in Winnipeg, with the way our season was going… win two, lose two, and the ebbs and flows kind of made you — it’s hard to stay even keeled, I guess.
“It’s like one day we’re out of playoffs and one day it’s like ‘OK, we’re gonna be buyers at the deadline.’ I think toward the end, I knew I was gonna get moved, it was just kind of a matter of where.”
Conscientious on the defensive side of the puck, Copp has taken considerable strides in the offensive zone, registering 13 goals and 35 points in 56 games this season. Former head coach Paul Maurice used him in a variety of roles — on the penalty kill, the second power-play unit and against the other teams’ best at five-on-five — and interim bench boss Dave Lowry had followed suit.
Jets centre Mark Scheifele said Copp’s absence will be felt on and off the ice.
“It was a tough day. A guy I lived with for a number of years, a guy that is probably one of my best friends on the team, a guy I talk a lot with about everything. It’s tough to see a guy like that go,” said Scheifele. “You feel a little lost out there, at morning skate. You know, waiting for guys that we always work on stuff together, we always do our stuff during morning skate.
“To not have him here anymore sucks. Obviously, wish him the best in New York.”
Veteran right-winger Blake Wheeler was blunt in his assessment of why the trade was orchestrated.
“We’re in 10th place. We’re not in first place. I think that’s the difference,” said the Jets captain. “From the business side of things, if we’re in first place you probably don’t trade Copper and you go for it. With where we’re positioned now, if we end up not making the playoffs it would be foolish to lose him for nothing. That is what it is. It’s part of the game.”
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