Just months after the unexpected passing of Derek Boogaard, hockey has tragically lost another young enforcer. Former Vancouver Canucks tough guy Rick Rypien was found dead at his home in Alberta, Canada on Monday, according to reports. He was 27.
Details regarding Rypien's untimely end have yet to be released, however Bob Addison of News 1130 reports that the troubled defenseman may have taken his own life. While this report is unconfirmed at the present time, it would be a stark twist to this already tragic development.
Rypien was given a leave of absence from the Canucks in 2008 in order to address what the team referred to as "personal matters." He went on to miss 70 games that season, while the team never officially confirmed what the problem was.
This issue resurfaced again last year, as Rypien took another unexplained leave of absence from Vancouver. Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun described the situation:
Neither player nor club has ever explained Rypien's months-long leave of absence two years ago, and it doesn't appear any details will be offered this time, as coach Alain Vigneault refused this morning to discuss the latest leave. But Rypien's "personal" issues are widely believed related to the 25-year-old's mental health. The Canucks will be doing everything they can to help him.
While details are still being uncovered, Rypien's death serves as another tragic blow to the NHL. True North and the Winnipeg Jets have released this statement in support:
"We are deeply saddened to confirm Rick's passing. As many people are aware, he had strong ties to True North Sports & Entertainment, the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club, the former Manitoba Moose Hockey Club and the Vancouver Canucks. We would like to express our sincere sympathies to the Rypien family as well as Rick's friends. We also appreciate all of the support that has come pouring in from Rick's fans. Rick was a talented player with an extremely bright future. His hunger for the game made him a valued team member both on and off the ice. This loss has impacted us as more than just a hockey team."