By Derek Jory
The hockey world received some devastating news Monday evening when word surfaced that former Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien had passed away.
RCMP in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, confirmed the death of the 27-year-old Monday, which sent shockwaves through the National Hockey League. Rypien was a beloved member of the hockey fraternity in the NHL, AHL and WHL; anyone who ever coached, played alongside, played against or watched Rypien play from the time he was a tot to this past season with the Manitoba Moose held the Alberta-native in high regard.
The outpouring of condolences has been as overwhelming as a classic Rypien shift when the Tasmanian devil would tear down the ice, ravage someone into the boards, steal the puck and create a scoring chance before preparing to chop down a goon tree if a scrum ensued.
“It is with tremendous sadness that the Vancouver Canucks confirm the passing of Rick Rypien,” the Canucks said in a statement Monday.
“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.”
Rypien signed a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets in July and according to longtime friend, former teammate and roommate and past Canucks forward Jason Jaffray, who also recently signed with the Jets, Rypien was eager for a fresh start.
“We actually had joked around about bringing a Cup back to Winnipeg,” Jaffray told Steve Lambert of The Canadian Press.
“Everyone knew he had some issues that he had to get taken care of last year and he was definitely a new man when he came back and...he was definitely the happiest I’d even seen him.”
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is expected to make a statement today, as is Jets assistant general manager Craig Heisinger, who gave Rypien his first pro tryout with the Moose.