News of the death of Winnipeg Jet forward Rick Rypien has hit the National Hockey League hard.
Players, including current and former teammates, along with NHL Players Association Executive Director Don Fehr have been quick to react through Twitter and other social media after Rypien was found dead in his home in Coleman, Alberta Monday afternoon. RCMP have determined it to be a ‘non-suspicious sudden death.’
Said Fehr in a statement released by the NHLPA Tuesday morning:
"All Players and NHLPA staff are saddened to learn of Rick’s passing. He was a respected member of our Association and will be greatly missed throughout the hockey community. Our sincere condolences go out to Rick’s family, friends and many fans."
Rypien, 27, was popular with fans and in locker rooms wherever he played, including here in Winnipeg with the Manitoba Moose. He was signed by the Jets in July to a one-year $700,000 contract and was said to be excited about his return to Manitoba.
Still dealing with the passing of New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard in May, NHL players have been devastated by another loss to their fraternity. Among the reactions:
"Sad to hear about Rick Rypien. I was looking forward to playing with him in Winnipeg. Thoughts are with his family and friends." -- Winnipeg Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd.
"Unbelievably sad news on the passing of Rick Rypien. One of the toughest players I ever played against. Thoughts and prayers with his family." — Eric Fehr, Winnipeg Jets
"Damn... Rick Rypien will be missed. He was the nicest guy, hung with him a few times in VAN... tough as all hell too. Thoughts to his fam." — George Parros, Anaheim Ducks
"RIP Rick Rypien. He was a warrior. Hit me so hard my eyes couldn’t focus for 30 secs. Not sure if it was a left or right. #hitmewithboth" — Mike Commodore, Detroit Red Wings
"Awful news about the passing of Rick Rypien, Rest in Peace." — Ryan Whitney, Edmonton Oilers
"Thoughts and prayers go out to Rick Rypien’s family. Another good soldier leaving us too soon!" — Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers
"Tough news to hear about Rick Rypien... another sad day for hockey. played the game as hard as anyone.. my prayers to him and his family." — Matt Moulson, New York Islanders
"RIP RIck Rypien. Hockey world takes another hit. Thoughts with his family." — Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
Terrible news about Rick Rypien...thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family...always sad to see a death in the hockey world #RIP" — Matt Carle, Philadelphia Flyers
Meanwhile, hockey fans in Vancouver were planning a celebration of life for Rick Rypien near the statue of Roger Neilson just outside of Rogers Arena.