Pull the Ryp Cord

Yesterday, we saw the public re-emergence of Canucks centre Rick Rypien, after a lengthy absence. Rypien, by all accounts, looked and sounded healthier and said it was the best he’d ever felt about hockey. 

Unfortunately, I think it’s time for the Canucks to pull the cord on Rypien. They simply don’t need him, and the Canucks are a better team without him.

I could pick on Rick Rypien and spew his stats and prove that the Canucks are statistically a much better team without him. However, I’m just using Rypien as an example of the type of Canucks player simply don’t need anymore.

The Canucks do not need a fighter anymore. And they’ve proved that.

General Manager Mike Gillis has said many times that he is looking to model the hockey team after the Ken Holland-era Detroit Red Wings. It’s easy to see why he would do that. The Red Wings are perennial contenders, they draft amazingly well, they let their prospects develop until they are ripe for NHL time, and constantly attract some of the best players from outside to come play for them. And oh yeah. They don’t have a fighter.

Now I’m not suggesting that just because a team doesn’t have a fighter, that they automatically become the Red Wings. That’s ridiculous. But ignoring the supposed need for a fighter and focusing on players who can play multiple roles is what Detroit has done. And it’s what Gillis. Vigneault and the rest of the Canucks brass and management have done all year.

If you look at the players who have played regularly on the fourth line this year, they have all killed penalties at some point. Tanner Glass sees regular PK time. It’s not a lot by any means, but he does it. Max Lapierre had not killed penalties at all in Anaheim, but when he was picked up by the Canucks, he started killing penalties. When Chris Higgins makes his way into the lineup, on the fourth line to start, he will very likely kill penalties. He did it very well in Florida, and will be expected to do it in Vancouver.

And that’s why Rick Rypien just doesn’t fit in this organization anymore. He’s never killed penalties, or played on the power play. His average ice time was around 7 minutes. He went out and he fought. He did it admirably. He answered the bell every time. But the time for a fighter on the roster has come to an end.

Sure, he’s a tough player. But fighting does not equal toughness. If the Canucks don’t have a fighter on the roster, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t tough. Ryan Kesler is tough. Jannik Hansen is tough. Raffi Torres is tough. Kevin Bieksa is tough. Keith Ballard. Dan Hamhuis. Tanner Glass. There’s more. You get it.

The best example lately is Jannik Hansen. In the game against Anaheim on Sunday, he got into a scuffle with Corey Perry. Perry shoved Hansen’s face 5 or 6 times in succession, and took a penalty. Hansen just took it and laughed at Perry. THAT’s tough. Those are the type of players that the Canucks have shown they have now. Depth players with versatility will always have a place on the Canucks roster. Players who can move from the fourth line to the third or even second line. Those are players that the Canucks have and want going forward. These are players like Jannik Hansen, Raffi Torres, Max Lapierre, Chris Higgins, Tanner Glass. Players like Rypien are just not versatile. They may have skill and some fighters have more skill than others. But pure fighters do not possess the versatility that NHL teams need to build a deep, ultra competitive roster. And it seems that Gillis has figured that out.

I do wish the best for Rick Rypien. He’s a battler and a warrior, both on the ice and off. Canucks fans will probably never know the extent of the personal issues from which he was suffering this season. And we all should know that it’s none of our business. I think we do. I hope he finds his way back into professional hockey as soon as possible. I just don’t expect that it will be with the Canucks.

But for right now and into the future, the Vancouver Canucks are now better without him.

  • Yankee Canuck

    Besides emotional attachment and some flimsy “what if” scenarios, I have yet to see one convincing reason to bother getting him back on this roster. As with most fourth liners, you need to bring more than fists and Rypien doesn’t truly do that.

  • Yankee Canuck

    Typical Vancouver resident response, what have you done for me latley??
    Rypien plays a lot like Burrows, he does have potential. And he has a hell of a lot more than Tanner Glass, and about the same as Tambelini except he’ll fight.
    I am glad I don’t visit this site, stop posting links on twitter no one wants to hear a retarded opinion. Clearly you you have a short attention span and half a brain, learn how to speak and write proper grammar and just because you haven’t seen someone play in a bit don’t forget what they have contributed to this team.

    • @ True Canucks fan…

      Insulting my grammar and my ability to speak – well, that’s just fantastic.

      I’m curious. Since you have obviously not forgotten the vast contributions Rypien has made to this team, please reply with some. And also, please let me know who you would take out of the lineup and replace with Rypien right now.

      I’m very interested to read your thoughts on this.

  • The folly of this entire post is that you are stating and assuming that all Rypien brings to the table are his fighting abilities.

    While his boxing skills and ability to take on people twice his size are absolutely legendary, they’ve blinded you to the fact that he actually has considerable offensive skill.

    Don’t shoot back at me with his stats, I know he hasn’t produced big numbers. Playing on the fourth line, not many do. Just look at the difference in Jeff Tambellini’s numbers, 2nd line vs. 4th line. It’s not only TOI, but the job description of each line, given by the coach.

    Anyways, the reason Rypien is a good 4th liner, to me, is that he has considerably more skill than anyone gives him credit for. He’s very strong on the puck and on the forecheck, and he’s a very hard worker.

    I’m not sure if he can give Higgins a run for his money, and I’d still like Lapierre at centre. Glass seems a lock on this team, for good reason.

    I’m just saying Rypien shouldn’t be dismissed so easily, and he certainly should not be considered a pure fighter, the way Darcy Hordichuk was.

    • “While his boxing skills and ability to take on people twice his size are absolutely legendary, they’ve blinded you to the fact that he actually has considerable offensive skill.”

      I couldn’t disagree with this more. There is no aspect in Rypien’s game which makes me think that he has considerable offensive skill, let alone more skill than anyone currently on the roster.

      Is he a great passer? No.
      Does he have a great shot? No.
      Is he good on faceoffs? No.
      Does he kill penalties? No.

      Sure, he has some speed and can forecheck. Ok, I’ll give you that. But so can everyone currently on the roster. And everyone else in the roster has other tools in their toolbox to make them far more versatile.

      So what am I missing? What considerable offensive skill does Rypien possess that makes him an option in the roster?

  • While I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that Rypien should necessarily bump someone from the lineup right now, I think your arguments are incredibly weak.

    First of all, Rypien is not just simply a fighter. That distinction goes to guys like Derek Boogaard or Darcy Hordichuk. Check out some of Rypien’s goals. He’s got skill.

    The Red Wings example is a good one, but again, he’s not just a fighter. Just like Darren McCarty wasn’t just a fighter (I know McCarty was a better player… but he wasn’t a good player when they won in 2008).

    Your statement: “If you look at the players who have played regularly on the fourth line this year, they have all killed penalties at some point” is misguided. Who’s played there regularly? Glass? Lapierre has played 5 games, but I guess he counts. Tambellini has played there somewhat regularly, and he doesn’t kill penalties. Lapierre averages 48 seconds per game on the PK and never before in his career, so the jury’s out there (by the way, Rypien averaged 43 seconds per game on the PK this year and has done it from time to time in years previous). I agree that ideally 4th liners should kill penalties, but the team has had at least 1 guy on their 4th line all year that didn’t kill penalties (see Oreskovich, Volpatti, etc.).

    I agree with your assessment of toughness, but I believe that Rypien can do that. He’s more than just a fighter. Give him better linemates than Ryan Johnson and Darcy Hordichuk and you’ll see that.

    Rypien would be a nice piece to have if you want a little more energy/hitting on your 4th line. Maybe there’s not a need for it at the moment because things are going so well, but in the playoffs there’ll be a time when he’ll be needed.

    • thanks for the reply Rob.

      I’ll state that I don’t think Oreskovich and Volpatti are long for this organization either, unless they expand their game and do something else, other that act as 4th line plug.

      When the lineup is finally fleshed out the way it should be, the fourth line will likely be Lapierre centering Higgins and Glass, all of whom kill penalties and have a more complete game than Rypien, Oreskovich, Volpatti, etc.

      Now I am not suggesting that Oreskovich and Volpatti are fighters. What I am saying is that they possess a limited skill set, like Rypien, and therefore have a VERY short shelf life with this team, unless they expand their game.

      Both you and HeadtotheNet have stated that Rypien has offensive skill. I just don’t see it. So enlighten me, because based on both of your replies, I am missing something.

  • Much earlier this season, I stated that Jannik Hansen has offensive skill. Did people see it? No. Most thought he was a high energy player without much skill. Now, after 2 games in California and some great passes to Manny, everyone’s on board.

    How does one prove there is skill before the stats are there to prove it? I don’t know. How do the scouts do it? I see something. As I did with Hansen, as I do with Raymond.

    Not saying he is them, not saying he should be given a chance, just saying he should not be written off and I disagree with your premise.

  • CupBoundCanucks

    The Canucks organization is not about to write Rypien off. His personal issues were obviously affecting his game. It sounds like the guy is working hard to get his life (on & off ice) in order. He is committed to the organization and I say we give him a chance to prove himself. He’s not hurting the Canucks while he is playing for the Moose and it would be silly to give up on him now.

    Its uncertain how long he will stay in Manitoba, or if he will ever return to the Canucks but I am happy to see the organization sticking by one of their guys.