James Mirtle tweeted the news this evening that Rick Rypien was found dead in his Alberta home today. The cause of death is not yet known, but we’ll update this post as we get more information.
In his time with the Canucks, Rick Rypien was the definition of a warrior, and one of the best technical fighters I’ve ever seen on hockey-skates. His ability to fight larger guys (Rypien was a shade under 6 feet), and not just hold his own – but often win – won him a special place in the hearts of Vancouver Canucks fans.
He captained the Regina Pats and was named team MVP in the 2002-03 season. Undrafted our of junior, he earned his way onto the Moose, and then the Canucks, with his scrappy play between the whistles and his penchant for igniting the crowd with his calculated, skillful belligerence post-whistle.
After grabbing a fan at a Minnesota Wild game in early October of the most recent season – Rypien was granted an indefinite leave of absence from the team. The cause of his disappearance was never revealed – but Canucks fans were rooting for the young man to turn his life around. He’d recently signed a deal with the new Winnipeg Jets. He was 27 years old.
#37 will be remembered fondly for his contributions to the Canucks organization, to the city and for his colorful personality. We wish the Rypien family all the best in their time of need.
Update (12:19 AM EST): here’s the Canucks press statement regarding Rypien’s passing.
Here are some memorable Rick Rypien highlights:
Rick Rypien with a beauty assist on a Michael Grabner goal in the 2010 playoffs.
Rick Rypien takes on 6,7 Hal Gill "he’s going to need a ladder."
Rick Rypien manhandles Zach Stortini: