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Response of fans speaks volumes about Rypien

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/8/2011 (3076 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ANOTHER day passes, but the hurt still lingers for those close to Rick Rypien and the Winnipeg Jets' organization.

Rypien, the former Manitoba Moose star signed by the Jets last month as a free agent after playing in 119 games over six seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, was found dead in his home in Coleman, Alta. on Monday.

Rick Rypien

NICK PROCAYLO / PNG ARCHIVES

Rick Rypien

A Jets spokesperson said that at the request of the Rypien family, details of his funeral will not be made public and RCMP in Crowsnest Pass, Alta., said no more information relating to his passing would be forthcoming.

As well, any plans to honour Rypien this coming season are still weeks away as the organization works through the grieving process.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is in Toronto at the NHL's Research, Development and Orientation camp and did offer these comments to The Sporting News on Wednesday:

"It's extremely tough. It's something you never want to prepare for," Cheveldayoff said. "It's been hard for a lot of people in our organization — guys like (assistant GM) Craig Heisinger and (co-owner) Mark Chipman who watched Ripper grow into a National Hockey League player... it kind of puts things into perspective, you're dealing with life. This is a game. There's some harsh realities with life."

Rypien had battled bouts of depression for the better part of a decade and many who deal with mood disorders are hopeful his passing can help bring more awareness to the subject.

Like many hockey fans, Jets hockey types were enamoured with Rypien's high-energy skill set that always put team first and it was a big reason they pursued him in free agency in early July, signing him to a one-year contract for $700,000. Rypien apparently turned down more lucrative offers to sign with the Jets and a True North organization that gave him his first start in pro hockey and offered a comfort level.

"He had a lot of other opportunities — bigger money, more years," Cheveldayoff said. "He believed in our franchise and he believed in people like (Heisinger) and Mark Chipman and what kind of organization this is going to become. He chose to come to us and we're proud of that."

Now the hockey club must deal with pushing on after his death.

"Everybody deals with this in their life," Heisinger said Tuesday. "People deal with this every day. It's no fun for anybody but we'll get through the next few days and we'll move on."

Cheveldayoff said the response of fans and teammates speaks volumes of the impact Rypien left wherever he played.

"Some of the stories (Heisinger) tells bring a smile to your face," Cheveldayoff said.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

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