Vancan Outta The Blue


Remembering Rypien
August 19, 2011, 22:55
Filed under: Canucks & NHL | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

By Josh Hall

Regardless of what really happened to Rick “The Ryper” Rypien this tragic summer night, one thing is for certain; he ultimately never got a fair shake in life.

The class with which the Canucks organization approached the Rypien situation the last couple seasons has been top notch and to myself, was somewhat stunning. It wasn’t stunning because I was proud of my favourite hockey team for showing it. It was stunning to me because I never really gave Rypien a fair shake.

Each time the Canucks issued a media release regarding Rypien, I had to send out one tweet or write at least one status about how I was sick of Rypien’s absence from the team continuing to go unexplained for entire seasons. Standing by one’s words is paramount to one’s credibility and by no means by writing this am I saying that I suddenly realise I was one of Rypien’s biggest fans all along, but when something as tragic as this happens, it’s hard to not see the light, at least a little bit.

There have always been rumours about why Rick was absent from the team. If it was bad, it was a rumour; drugs, alcohol, depression, suicidal thoughts and so on and so forth. It was sickening. Not once did I speculate but just the idea of an absence being unexplained for so long; well let’s face it, it’s unprecedented. When else does a player miss a whole season and fans don’t know why, whether it’s an injury or something else. The Canucks always cited personal and family issues and to this day, I really don’t think that’s enough.

That being said, looking back on Rypien’s career which spanned 119 regular season NHL games, one can respect the guy for being a fighter, in every sense of the word. Perhaps I never gave him enough credit for not announcing retirement throughout his whole personal leave. It would be so easy for a guy in his position to just up and quit the game, while he’s got enough money to live on and to support his family. He could have just left the game behind, said he needed to take care of whatever it was that has ailed him and no one would’ve questioned him. Retrospectively, I respect him immensely for that.

He was loved by his teammates, hated by opponents and yet respected on the ice as well for a skill that not many NHL players can brag about. Rypien almost always fought at least two weight classes above his own and almost always pounded his foe into oblivion. The most memorable would have to be Zach Stortini seen here:

Ryper Pounds Stortini

He even had a scoring touch, way back there on the fourth line. Two goals come to mind immediately. The Canucks opened up the season a couple years ago with two games against Calgary and Ryper scored not once, but twice, including an incredible breakaway deke roof job seen here:

Ryper Roofs It

Looking forward, Rypien was set to become a Winnipeg Jet, and sadly will not make that debut. Once again, the Canucks and even the Jets have shown class with issuing statements regarding Rick’s passing. The Canucks had this to say on Canucks.com, “It is with tremendous sadness that the Vancouver Canucks confirm the passing of Rick Rypien. Rick has been a beloved member of the Canucks family for the past six years. Rick was a great teammate and friend to our players, coaches and staff. We send our deepest condolences to the Rypien family at this most difficult time.” What more could you ask for from an organization such as the Canucks? They never fail to amaze me.

Upon reading the tweet from @vancanucks this evening regarding the media release, I was filled with a sickening feeling, because whether I loved the guy or not, hockey is a family. The Canucks as a club are a family and I believe with every ounce of my being that fans are also part of that family. It was not long ago this city lost another young Canuck and this time, it feels like it really rings close to home, all of us having gone through what happened to Luc only a few short years ago. I’ve been having chills all night thinking about Luc and now Rick.

I regret not realising my respect for Rick Rypien sooner, but I am glad I have seen it now. As already said, the man was a fighter, both on and clearly, off the ice. Lessons can and I believe will be learned from whatever is deemed to be the cause of death, but this time, I’m content with the information we have already being enough.  RIP Ryper. Forever a Canuck!

Rick Rypien was 27 years old.

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[…] Hall’s Remembering the Ryper (Vancity Sports […]

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