Rick Rypien

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Riks Repjēns, Рик Репъен
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Rick Rypien (May 16, 1984 – August 15, 2011) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. He spent four seasons with the Regina Pats, a major junior team in the Western Hockey League before being signed by the Moose in 2005. He joined theVancouver Canucks at the start of the 2005–06 National Hockey League season, and remained with the club until the end of the 2010–11 NHL season. Rypien had signed with the Winnipeg Jets prior to the start of the 2011–12 NHL season.

He was found dead in his home by a family member on August 15, 2011.

Playing career

Rypien joined the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL) after playing one season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League for the Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves. Unselected in the annual WHL Bantam Draft, Rypien earned a spot with the Pats.[1] While with Regina, he served as the team captain.[2] After posting 45 points in 2002–03, he received three team awards, being named team MVP, the fans' choice as most popular player (Bill Hicke Award) and the Molson Cup champion, receiving the most three star selections.[3][4]

Undrafted out of junior, he signed with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League (AHL) to an amateur tryout late in the 2004–05 season.[4] He completed the season with the Moose and early the next season, he was signed to an NHL contract by Manitoba's parent club, the Vancouver Canucks on November 9, 2005.[5] He made his NHL debut for the Vancouver Canucks against the Edmonton Oilers on December 21, 2005, and scored his first NHL goal on his first shot in the first period.[6] However, playing in his fifth game with the club, he suffered a broken fibula against the Minnesota Wild.[2] He played five games total for the Canucks during his professional rookie season to go with 15 points in 49 games with the Moose.

Competing for a roster spot in training camp for the 2006–07 season, Rypien injured his thumb in a fight in a game against theAnaheim Ducks, sidelining him for two months.[2] After recovering, he was sidelined once again with a partially torn groin muscle in his second game back with the Canucks.[7] He completed the majority of the season with the Moose, recording 6 points in 14 games.

Early in the 2007–08 season, Rypien injured a finger in a game against the Detroit Red Wings on October 24, 2007.[8] Once recovered, he split the season with the Moose, with 14 points in 34 games, and the Canucks, tallying 3 points in 22 games. After playing in five games in 2008–09, he continued to be plagued with injuries, suffering a sports hernia in October. Upon recovering, however, the Canucks declared he was taking an indefinite leave of absence due to a personal matter, alluding to Rypien's history of constant injuries as the main reason for him not returning to the team. Assistant general manager Lorne Henning stated that "It's just wearing on him now - it's frustrating for him. He just has to deal with the injuries ... and wrap his head around it."[9] He returned after a 70-game absence on March 31, 2009, in a game against the Minnesota Wild.[10]

In the 2009 off-season, Rypien signed a two-year extension with the Canucks on May 27, 2009.[11] During a game against theSt. Louis Blues on December 31, 2009, he was automatically ejected after a fight with opponent Cam Janssen revealed his hands were illegally taped below the wrist, because of a sprained finger.[12]

On October 19, 2010 in a game against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center, Rypien pushed a linesman, and while heading down the tunnel, he reached into the stands and grabbed a fan by the chest, who had been clapping[13] and yelled out "way to be professional".[14] After grabbing the fan Rypien started to pull him into the tunnel before being restrained by his coach and teammates.[13] Rypien was suspended indefinitely pending an in person disciplinary hearing about the altercation.[15]As a result of the in-person meeting, the NHL suspended Rypien for six games and fined the Canucks $25,000.[16] Following the suspension hearing, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the fan to apologize and offered him dinner and tickets to another game,[17] after which the fan stated that, although he had not yet hired a lawyer,[17] he would be "definitely seeking legal representation."[14] Rypien meanwhile told media he had apologized to his team and the league, describing his actions as "nuttier as a fruitcake."[18]

After having served his suspension, Rypien struggled to remain in the Canucks' lineup and was made a regular healthy scratch. In late-November 2010, the Canucks allowed him another personal leave of absence. It was widely speculated in the media Rypien was suffering from mental health issues. While the Canucks organization withheld any details regarding Rypien's situation, general manager Mike Gillis stated publicly that "when you come to know somebody and realize they're a really good person, but crazy...You don't only support them when they're at the top of their game...you support them when they're not feeling good about things or have other issues they have to deal with."[19] By March 2011, Rypien was ready to play again and was assigned to the Moose. The NHL waived the two-week limit allowed for a conditioning stint, allowing the Canucks to leave him with the Moose for the remainder of the season and avoid his salary cap hit.[20]

On July 2, 2011 Rypien signed a 1-year, $700,000 contract with the newly established Winnipeg Jets.[21]

Personal life

Born and raised in Coleman, Alberta, Rypien played minor hockey in Coleman before leaving to play major junior in Regina. Rypien is the son of Wes Rypien who was a Canadian boxing champion; Rypien's older brother, Wes, also played in the WHL, as well as several seasons in the ECHL.[1] Rypien is also a distant cousin of former NFLquarterback Mark Rypien, who was named the most valuable player of Super Bowl XXVI.


A family member found Rypien dead in his Crowsnest Pass, Alberta home August 15, 2011. No further information has been released to the public at this time.[22

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