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    New Jersey Devils' Rupp has been in teammate Tallackson's shoes

    by Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger
    Thursday September 25, 2008, 3:57 PM

    Mike Rupp first had surgery to correct a racing heartbeat in 2000.

    Barry Tallackson hoped this training camp with the Devils would finally provide his opportunity to secure a permanent job in the NHL.

    Instead, the 25-year-old right winger's career is on hold. Early Friday morning Tallackson will undergo surgery in Minnesota to correct an irregular heartbeat. His cardiologist will perform the procedure and there is hope he can resume playing at some point this season.

    But, as teammate Mike Rupp pointed out Thursday, there are more important things than hockey, even when you've recently signed a new contract and trained harder than ever before.

    "It puts your life in perspective," Rupp said. "But when you're trying to play in the NHL, your priorities aren't what they should be."

    Rupp should know. The surgery Tallackson will undergo is believed to be similar to what Rupp had for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW).

    "The first time I went through it in Albany (AHL)," Rupp recalled. "I was told there was a one-in-a-million chance of it being fatal, but it's something you want to get taken care of. Unfortunately, that procedure was unsuccessful. They had to pull out and not finish it and they just said to keep an eye on it."

    The operation in 2000 to burn away an extra pathway in his heart was abandoned because it would have ruined his A-V (atrio-ventricular) node and would have required that he get a pacemaker. But the problem of a racing heart returned.

    "I went a long time without any episodes," Rupp said. "Then I started having them. To a certain extent I was dumb. I was trying to make the NHL and I would ignore the episodes. I wouldn't say anything. They were scary, but I'd make it through. I kept thinking about the one-in-a-million chance of something happening.

    "Finally, it got real bad when I was in Columbus. It had escalated over the years and was a very deadly situation."

    In 2006, while with the Blue Jackets, doctors froze the pathway and Rupp has been fine ever since. In total, Rupp has had two ablations and corrective surgery on his atrial fib (fibrillation).

    Former Devils defenseman Kevin Dean, now a minor-league coach at Lowell (AHL), has his own scare and twice required surgery.

    "I've had two ablations," Dean said. "The first time was when I was still playing and then it came back."

    An ablation is a high-frequency electrical energy delivered through a catheter to a small area of tissue inside the heart that causes the abnormal rhythm. The ablation disconnects the pathway of the abnormal heartbeat.

    Dean and defenseman Paul Martin, who played with Tallackson at the University of Minnesota, have spoken to Tallackson, whom they described as frustrated at seeing his season interrupted.

    Recovery is usually only a couple of weeks, but the need to take blood thinners to prevent clots delays getting back on skates.

    "I spoke to him to bulk up his spirits," Dean said. "I think he'll be all right."

    According to general manager Lou Lamoriello, Tallackson's "spirits are fantastic. I would think anybody would be apprehensive, but I think he feels reasonably comfortable with everything the doctors have told him."

    Rupp put it into perspective: "I finally sat back and said, 'If I never play this game again, at least I know I'm going to see my kids grow up.' I was totally content with that. I haven't had any episodes since. My EKG I do here every year is normal now. I hope it's correctable for Barry."

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    thru 23 games .... by olddevfan 12/04/2008 10:30 p.m. ET

    physical? by Brodeur4Capt 12/04/2008 10:30 p.m. ET

    shut up about the rangers by ohdidya 12/04/2008 10:18 p.m. ET