RIP #37

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:

Rick Rypien 1984-2011

  • Wow, when I first saw the news I was shocked and I just couldn’t believe it. Rick was a great player, a great enforcer in the game. I was really looking forward to him joining the Jets organization. I wish his friends and family all the best for the future. Rick will be missed, but not forgotten.

  • I’m not one to call for outright bans of things, but…the pure “enforcer” role needs to be done away with, once and for all in the NHL. A pure top-down solution probably won’t work if the NHL/hockey culture doesn’t condone it so it’s more on players, coaches and GM’s to look at the game and say “this doesn’t work. It isn’t worth the costs to the player.”

    Goons don’t play in the playoffs. They don’t play in all-star games or the Olympics. They don’t play when it matters and for good reason. Their job is brutal, frightening and can take a terrible toll. For no good reason.

    Condolences to Rypien’s family and friends. Can’t imagine what they’re going through right now.

  • There is a reason why guys like Rypien are fan favourites.
    What they lack in skill, they make up for in spades with guts, determination and willingness to do the dirtiest work on the ice.

    It was obvious that he was going through some major personal problems, and had been for many years.

    The Canucks did what they could to help. We all hope that they did their very best to help Rick. But, in the end, it wasn’t enough.

    I read on Twitter from someone last night… the next time you hear thunder, that’s the sound of Boogaard and Rypien throwing knuckles in heaven.

    Absolutely.

    RIP #37.

  • I tend to be closer to Proteau’s viewpoint than Marek’s when it comes to violence in hockey – but Rypien was the most electrifying fighter I ever saw in person.

    The way he blocked, and used his technique to handcuff gigantic fellows was just riveting. Though I’d like to see hockey crack down on fighting harder than they do now, on a primal level I can’t imagine hockey without the fights. It may not be worth the human cost, but what’s more fun than watching a guy like Rypien go toe-to-toe with mountains?