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Jets' Rypien found dead at home

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Winnipeg Jets and former Vancouver Canucks winger Rick Rypien has been found dead at his home near Coleman, Alta.

The Jets issued the following statement Monday night.

"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."

The 27-year-old played part of six seasons in the NHL collecting 16 points in 119 regular season games.

Rypien’s former roommate and teammate Jason Jaffray was heavy-hearted Monday night.

"Rick was a guy everybody loved having on his team," Jaffray said. "You hated to play against him. You loved him in your dressing room because you knew he’d have your back, especially if your top-end guys were run over or taken advantage of. He be the first to step up.

"He cared, and you loved him in there having your back. He was one of those foot soldiers that brings the team together."

Former teammate, roommate and dressing room stall neighbour Mike Keane said Rypien had appeared to find some peace in his life.

"He seemed to be in a good place. We chatted off and on this summer and he was happy with the way things were going and the way he was feeling," said Keane. "I don’t know what to say. It’s a shock. His demons were stronger than anyone knew."

Keane was happy Rypien had joined the Jets.

"I was happy he had signed with the Jets. Zinger (Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger) and Chip (Jets chairman Mark Chipman) had Rip’s best interests in mind. They looked out for him and they wanted the best for him," said Keane. "They took care of him when he needed it. I was happy he was back here because it was the right place for him."

Calgary Flames forward Guillaume Desbiens played with Rypien in Manitoba and Vancouver.

"It’s messed up. I just found out. I’m flabbergasted," said Desbiens from his home in Montreal. "From the first time you met Rip, he was a great guy to be around. His personal problems have been written about a lot lately and that paints him in a bad light. He was easy to be around and fun to be around. He was a great teammate. The kind of guy you looked forward to coming to the rink with and building a team."

Keane said Rypien hid his dark side.

"People didn’t know what he was feeling. He never showed it," said Keane. "It’s so sad. There’s really no words for it. I don’t know what to say."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

History

Updated on Monday, August 15, 2011 at 10:45 PM CDT: Updates with more information

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