Miss You Ryp!
In the depths of my worst NHL hockey withdrawals I think back to a happier time when players dashed and skates flashed, and a good portion of my memories involve Rick Rypien. Of all the Vancouver NHL’ers to leave a mark over the years Rypien’s determination on and off the ice resonates with me more than any other player.
It isn’t about the goals, assists, or penalty minutes. It’s not even about the fights that stand out so vividly in my mind. It’s about the battle, day after day, shift after shift that Rypien endured during his career as a Canuck.
Following his tragic death the details of his fight with clinical depression only further emphasized his determination during the fight both on and off the ice, making every memory that much more impactful.
While battling his own personal demons off the ice Rypien jumped at the opportunity to defend his teammates on it, a realization that remains with me to this day.
My greatest memories of Rick Rypien are ultimately trumped by the most tragic of them all; however it is his on-ice glory that I think back to during days of lockout despair.
Rypien’s epic tussles with Zack Stortini, Brad May, Boris Valabik and Hal Gill remain fond memories, but it was him standing up to fellow troubled enforcer Derek Boogaard that remains most clear in my mind’s eye.
The two didn’t fight, but there was a moment during one particular division battle that I will never forget: David turned towards Goliath and gave him a shove that said he was ready to do battle, if only with a slingshot, and Boogaard looked back in shock as if too accustomed to acting as the instigator.
In a glorious act of courage Rypien had entrenched himself as Vancouver’s invincible enforcer to thousands of fans, yet little we know fans were cheering him down a path of turmoil and ultimate tragedy.
In reflection it seems as no surprise my strongest memory of Rypien also involves Derek Boogaard.
The two will be connected forever in tragedy; however their lives have had a positive effect for future generations of hockey players.
Boogaard’s passing has begun a discussion about hockey-related trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.) and today Rypien’s legacy lives on through the efforts of Mindcheck.ca, a website dedicated to assist those struggling with mental health issues.
While a game of NHL hockey hasn’t been played in months, Rick Rypien’s life continues to have a positive effect, helping others just as he did, and thankfully that’s something you can’t lock out.