Mid-Day Headshots - Rypien Memorial Edition

Thomas Drance
August 17 2011 02:49PM

Photo is from the make-shift Rypien memorial that has sprung up outside Rogers Arena. Sticktap to Maria Weisgarber for the photo.

Yesterday while compiling my head-shots post - I linked to the two Rypien tributes I'd had time to read while at work yesterday. Last night, however, when reading through the tremendous outpouring of emotion and support from the Canucks blogosphere - I realized I'd missed the mark. In place of our usual head-shots links, and in honour of Rick Rypien and the affection we all had for him, I'm going to curate some of the many wonderful Rypien tributes swirling around the hockey world, and the Canucks blogosphere in lieu of the usual schtick.

Classy stuff from BReynolds at HockeyWilderness (SBN's Minnesota Wild blog): 

There was a night in October that Minnesota Wild fans would have wished the worst on Rick Rypien. The worst possible consequence for his actions. No one would have wished this... All of that goes away now. All that matters is that Rick Rypien is gone, far too young, far too early. Whatever happened on the ice, or off, is of no consequence. What matters now is that a member of the hockey family, of the human family, has been lost. We join the NHL community in mourning the loss of Rick Rypien. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his friends, and his teammates.

Tony Gallagher writes the hell out of his piece on Rypien's inscrutable nature

Whatever ultimately caused this young man's death, those involved - including the family - should know that this wonderful guy did know some happiness in his life which ended not because they didn't do enough, but because the fellow upstairs decided to end his struggles down here and call him back. He had access to the best help that can be provided for his condition and yet still we are beset by this sadness.

But not Rick Rypien. His sadness is at an end, and our prayers should be such that he finds a place filled with eternal happiness.

From Harrison Mooney, on the stark reminder that these athletes we root for are human beings too:

Sometimes we forget that these athletes, skilful, fit and practiced though they may be, are just people — that they struggle with the same problems as anybody, that they’re just as fragile, just as human. It’s absolutely devastating to be reminded in such a sickening fashion. Rick Rypien will be missed and mourned.

From HeadtotheNet:

The lasting image [of Rypien's memory] should always be of a man whose heart was larger than his modestly sized body – the way he fought for and defended his teammates, even when it meant taking on giants, some of the scariest people in the NHL. Despite towering over him, they feared the flurry of fists the little guy could throw.

From Justine Galo posting at CanucksCorner:

I just wanted to thank you for the memories. You were an exciting player to watch and I rooted for you from the get-go. You inspired many out there: Undrafted, moderately talented, but boy did you ever have heart. That alone gave you a reputation in the NHL. You thrilled fans in Regina, Winnipeg, Vancouver and around the NHL. A pit-bull or a wolverine. The ultimate underdog fighter, but you sure showed them on the ice. Truly inspiring.

From Dan Murphy's tour de force take on his relationship with Rypien:

Rick was a great teammate. Ask anyone. In fact two years back goaltender Josh Harding called Rypien the best captain he ever had (the two played together in Regina). Remember, Harding said this when he had already been in the NHL for a number of years. That is a great compliment.

I'll smile when I think of Rypien. It's tough not to when you look back on some of memorable moments with the Canucks. Like when he took on Hal Gill or Boris Valabik despite the fact he was giving up more than six inches and 50 pounds to each of them. Or when he went toe-to-toe with Cam Janssens last season. Or the memorable three fights he had with Brandon Prust in one game when Prust was a member of the Calgary Flames.

Bruce Arthur wrote about Rypien's struggle with depression with his typical gravity:

That day of his return back in March, Mr. Rypien said his main goal was just to be happy with himself, to be comfortable with himself. Behind a rough beard that hid his sharp jawline, he said, "Now I'm more aware than ever that it's OK to ask for help, and people will help you." He said he really believed that his treatment was "only going to benefit my on-ice performance now, and kind of make me whole, and the more I go on I think the more I can talk about it, and hopefully one day I can help other hockey players that might be experiencing difficulties with whatever they're dealing with on the off-ice." Mr. Rypien wanted to make a difference. He fought his depression. He asked for help. He said all the right things. He was not alone.

And Alix Wright wrote on what Rypien continues to mean to her:

When I wear my Rypien jersey I feel tough. I stand up taller and I walk with swagger as the kids are saying these days. I can handle myself. It’s silly but it’s true. Thanks to Rick Rypien. Thanks for the wonderful hockey memories and everything else. I’m incredibly sad I won’t get to see the rest of his career. I’m sorry I never had the chance to meet Rypien and tell him so in person. All my thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends.

Clearly Rick Rypien will be missed by the Canucks community and the hockey community alike. Our best wishes go out to his family, friends and teammates - and to #37 - we hope you're someplace better, and at peace.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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