It seems surreal to be writing about the late Rick Rypien who was only 27 years old; it seems wrong.
Just a few months ago, we watched the press conference where he announced his return to the Manitoba Moose from a lengthy personal leave. We wondered about that beard and where he had been.
During the past season, how many times did we see the random tweet:
Anyone have an update on Rypien? #Canucks
What’s going on with Rypien? #Canucks
Turns out, there was a lot going on.
What’s very unfortunate is that following his infamous altercation with a fan in Minnesota, more than half of Canucks Nation turned on him, attaching the action to his personality rather than accepting a mistake. Little did they know what trouble lay behind the facade.
Soon after, Iain MacIntyre wrote a quick block post for the Vancouver Sun letting everyone know that the problems were about more than hockey; they were private and should be left alone.
Following the news of his passing yesterday, Josh Hall wrote this post, the key being that “Rick Rypien never got a fair shake.” And that’s the truth of the matter. Rypien had more hockey skill than his fourth liner status allowed him to display, but due to many physical injuries over the years, and then the more serious personal leaves, he never had a chance to show what he could do.
Part of Rypien’s memory will be his unfulfilled potential, but the lasting image should always be of a man whose heart was larger than his modestly sized body – the way he fought for and defended his teammates, even when it meant taking on giants, some of the scariest people in the NHL. Despite towering over him, they feared the flurry of fists the little guy could throw.
Today is immensely sad, and it’s too bad it took a tragedy like this for Canucks fans to show their love for one of their own. He didn’t have the chance to feel it when he left to play for the Jets. But it’s out there now for all to see. Rick Rypien: once a Canuck, always a Canuck – we will never forget you.
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