No one ever expects professional athletes to die when they are still active in their sport. No one ever counts on the unexpected happening. Probably why they call it the unexpected.
When Rick Rypien was reported to have passed away in his home in Coleman, Alberta, the hockey world was shaken for the second time since the snow left the ground in most hockey markets.
Rypien, who spent five seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization with the mother club and the Manitoba Moose, was a tough, gritty customer and would never back down from a fight.
An undrafted signee by then Moose GM Craig Heisinger, Rypien made his mark on the hockey world through his tough and tenacious play.
After signing with the Winnipeg Jets earlier this summer along with long time teammate and friend Jason Jaffray, both commented on the possibility of bringing the Stanley Cup to Winnipeg after Jaffray almost brought the Calder Cup to the Manitoban capital.
It’s not the news of Rypien’s death that hurts the most for hockey fans and the Jets and Canucks organization, it’s his absence on and off the ice.
From the remarks and recollections of many past teammates of Rypien’s, he was the ultimate teammate and competitor. He was always willing to stick up for his teammates and linemates through his fists and his deathly glare.
Rypien was not known for goal scoring but for his gritty play and that is what most Jets fans will miss the most by not being able to see him in action in Winnipeg in the NHL instead of the AHL.