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Blog Entry

Remembering Rypien: The view of NHL enforcers

Posted on: August 16, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 4:33 pm
 

By Brian Stubits

For the second time since the regular season ended, the hockey world received the worst news it can hear: one of its players was found dead. Rick Rypien, one of the league's pound-for-pound best enforcers out there, was found dead at the age of 27 in his Alberta home.

Rypien was a player who certainly had his demons. It was widely speculated that he was having a battle with depression issues when the Canucks game Rypien a personal leave of absence in late 2010. Unfortunately, his lasting memory for many of Rypien will be the altercation he was in with a fan in Minnesota.

But this is where that part of the story ends. Just yesterday I wrote a story about the role of fighting in hockey, saying that with every passing day I drift away from seeing it as a necessity in the sport. Don't be confused, this isn't an attempt to rehash that discussion the day after Rypien's death. Some might. Is it a coincidence that the two players (the other being Derek Boogaard) who were found lying dead in their homes in the past few months had a primary job of dropping the gloves? Probably.

Instead the question I have is if the NHL is doing enough to take care of its players. In no way am I condeming the league at this point of having had any ability to prevent either tragedy. Especially without knowing the specifics behind the Rypien tragedy it's impossible to make any such condemnations.

Surely the league can't be asked to babysit every player all the time. That is unreasonable and impossible. But is there more that can be done to help players in need of treatment? Perhaps make it more accessible and explained in great detail to player? The NHL must at least look at the question, explore if more can be done with its treatment program. However that's a discussion for a later day.

In the meantime, this is still the grieving process, the point where people remember the man. And Rypien isn't being remembered by those in the game for moments like that outburst on a Wild fan. No, he is being remembered for his prominent skills as a fighter. He was about as tough as anybody in hockey, willing to do what he needed for his team and teammates. That's the player that was Rick Rypien.

Here is the statement NHLPA head Donald Fehr released today.

“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.”

The comments came flying in across the Twitterverse as well.

Mike Commodore: "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"

Paul Bissonnette: "Just heard the terrible news about Rick Rypien. One of the toughest pound for pound guys in the league. He had no fear. Sad day."

Michael Grabner: "I will always have the memories from Vancouver with Rick..also pound for pound was one of the toughest guys out there.. #RIP"

There were plenty more. Hockey players were flying out of the woodworks to give their lasting memories of Rypien. Most all of them recognized the guy they knew on the ice, the tough combatant that very few wanted to square off against. But then there were the guys who knew him better. For guys like George Parros, Rypien's fighting ability was secondary.

"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"

See, here is the funny thing about enforcers. They are seen as the biggest tough guys in the game, the ultimate alpha males. And in a lot of cases, it's a situation where it couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, on the ice they fit that bill, but off? Not necessarily the case.

In reality, they are the greatest teammates anybody could have. They prove time and time again that they are willing to do whatever it takes, whatever the team needs. For a lot of them, it's their only way to stay in the league, to continue to play the game they love.

Derek Boogaard, the other player who tragically died since the end of last season, was recognized as one of the nicest guys in the league while having the heaviest fists around. The lasting memories of him were just as much about his charity work as it was his breaking of Todd Fedoruk's jaw.

How about Georges Laraque's visit to Haiti with P.K. Subban earlier this offseason? The two spent time visiting children's hospitals and doing their best to make an impact in the war- and earthquake-ravaged nation.

That's the paradox that is the image of enforcers. While people outside the game, watching it from the sidelines and the press box, will remember Rypien for his fights and his black eye of an incident in Minnesota. But his co-workers, his colleagues remember him the way most enforcers are: a great teammate.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:49 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Apr 18, 2009
Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:18 am
 

Remembering Rypien: The view of NHL enforcers

primetime,
I have not been involved in this USA vs Canada war of words but your comment really irked me.  I will make this short and sweet, if you are going to make a comment at least do some research.  Here is a link,

http://www.geographic.org/country_r

anks/educational_score_performance_

country_ranks_2009_oecd.html

Canada ranks third in worldwide education levels and the United States ranks thirty third.  So shut the hell up.



Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: August 22, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Remembering Rypien: The view of NHL enforcers

Man,i didn`t think that many people put down their hand guns and bibles long enough to type that much.Anyway,to reiterate my original point,if ANYbody were to take the time to read my first comment,i no where NEAR attacked any other country.I merely ended up defending myself against some AMERICAN "dolts" that attacked me first.Then,in good old red,white and blue reaction,attack anything you don`t understand or dares defend themselves and blame it on whomever you attack.I know,you don`t like the issue clouded with fact,but there it is.And by the way,half your own country(the intelligent half) and the rest of the western world consider the USA a joke.Don`t blame me,that`s just the way it is.Now go ahead,lash out in frustration at the world view of the USA and kill the messenger.You do that so well.And you wonder why the world hates you.Your ignorance would be pitiful.If you deserved the pity.Now stop bothering people here and go start another needless war you can`t afford.By the way,how`ya making out with those first two Chenney and Rove suckered you into ?



This is the garbage you post......YOU ARE A JOKE ......The crap you say I really cant blame on you I guess since you did get educated in Canada which does explain part of your problem.






Since: Jul 8, 2008
Posted on: August 20, 2011 8:48 am
 

Primetime...so i see you ARE indeed to lazy

To lazy to go back to where,ONCE AGAIN,if you did take the time,you`ll see i never went NEAR the "country vs country" BS you`re wrongly accusing me of doing.But again,why cloud the issue with facts when you can just shoot off your mouth without actually doing any research on the matter.By the way.Watch and listen to a lot of CBC there in the USA do you ? That`s the only communist run soap box Cherry can get away with his racist rants. I wasn`t aware the USA allowed the bigoted ,racist CBC "commentator" ,Cherry,to spout his venom on tv in the States.( `course,Fox "News" and Rush Limbaugh DO test that theory)And you`re right,i shouldn`t compare him to that evil that is David Duke.Cherry`s far more dangerous than Duke.At least the USA ATTEMPTS to muzzle Duke, "free speech and all".Here in Canada,the WASPS in Toronto that run the CBC ENCOURAGE Cherry and PAY him for his racist comments against anything not WASP.So,why not take the time,go back to my VERY first comment that started all this, and tell me where you see the "us vs them" theme. Will your ADD permit you to manage such a task ? Or do you prefer just to shoot off your ignorant,uniformed,"don`t bother me with facts" big mouth ?   



Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: August 19, 2011 4:04 pm
 

Remembering Rypien: The view of NHL enforcers

Starblazer,

I have read your stupid comments along with the ones from a few other idiots on here where I have come to the conclusion that you know nothing about the game of hockey. First of all fighting has always been a part of this game before the instigator penalty was put in that was how the players policed themselves. No one went after Wayne Gretzky because if they did Marty Mcsorley would have came after them and their superstar. No one ever went after Stevie Y because they would have got taken down by Probert, McCarty, or Kocur. If Crosby would have had a enforcer to protect him I dont think he would be out now with a concussion because of a cheap hit.
You need to have played the game to understand which I can tell you have never played hockey.

Espvinny,

You are a complete joke by even comparing anyone to David Duke. You are the one that started all this crap comparing Don Cherry to him
You started this into a USA vs Canada which had nothing to do with the story at all. It is people like you that should just keep your mouth shut
because eveytimme you open it you put your foot in your mouth.




Since: Nov 22, 2006
Posted on: August 18, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Remembering Rypien: The view of NHL enforcers

My two cents:  Let us please try not to link all "American's" and all "Canadien's" in any discussion.  Being from Minnesota I can name many people that have as much, if not more, knowledge of and passion for the sport of hockey then any other culture in the world.  I also know many people from the Great White North that could care less about the sport.  Does that mean Minnesotan's being from the US have no knowledge of the sport just because someone from Texas might prefer football?  Just because a large amount of people from my northern neighbors like speak French does that mean they are all speak French?

Let's please take into consideration the fools that try to stereo type people into a single silly statement.  They are truly fools.  If you ask me both countries are pretty awesome and I wouldn't trade either one for any other country in the world.  (Well maybe Australia - those folks tend to be fun!!!)



Since: Apr 18, 2009
Posted on: August 18, 2011 9:50 am
 

Remembering Rypien: The view of NHL enforcers

Just adding my two cents worth.  Someone made the point that it took O.T. for Canada to beat the U.S in the gold medal game.  That obviously is true.  And I will concede that the top 18 players from at least 5 or 6 countries in the world have a reasonable chance of beating any Canadian hockey team we put out on the ice.  What you fail to realize is, is that while that truly is your top 18 players, Canada left guys like Steve Stamkos at home because there was no more room.  Canada could very easily field 3 teams (maybe more) in an international tournament that could potentially take the 3 medals home.



Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: August 18, 2011 9:01 am
 

Remembering Rypien: The view of NHL enforcers

You are an idiot. I live in a Canadian city with 6 million people and the avg house price over half a million. Quality of life dwarfs yours. And yes, we know our hockey exponentially more than Americans because we've been on the ice since we're 4. Most people I know aren't pros and still have played in excess of one thousand organized hockey games since their childhood. 
As far as Canadian teams winning a cup? Last time I checked the final 4 were chalk full of Canadians. Boston's entire fwd core was all Canadian except Krejci. The Cup has been in Canada for most of the summer......again.
Since I'm a kid, we've owned US teams on the boards, scoreboard and definitely in tussles. You guys are a joke on the ice next to us. Now my daughter is owning US boys on the ice. No shock there. No better feeling than when I hear there is an American on the other team in my league; guaranteed easy pickins and a guaranteed win if the gloves drop.
Stick with college boys playing football you pansy. 



Since: Jul 8, 2008
Posted on: August 17, 2011 8:59 pm
 

Boy,hit a nerve did we ?!? :)

Man,i didn`t think that many people put down their hand guns and bibles long enough to type that much.Anyway,to reiterate my original point,if ANYbody were to take the time to read my first comment,i no where NEAR attacked any other country.I merely ended up defending myself against some AMERICAN "dolts" that attacked me first.Then,in good old red,white and blue reaction,attack anything you don`t understand or dares defend themselves and blame it on whomever you attack.I know,you don`t like the issue clouded with fact,but there it is.And by the way,half your own country(the intelligent half) and the rest of the western world consider the USA a joke.Don`t blame me,that`s just the way it is.Now go ahead,lash out in frustration at the world view of the USA and kill the messenger.You do that so well.And you wonder why the world hates you.Your ignorance would be pitiful.If you deserved the pity.Now stop bothering people here and go start another needless war you can`t afford.By the way,how`ya making out with those first two Chenney and Rove suckered you into ?




Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: August 17, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Remembering Rypien: The view of NHL enforcers

Stop tinkering with the game. With every ill-conceived rule change, unintended consequences result. Banning fighting will either lead to more dirty hits and stick work, or the continued wussfication of the West. Call Don Cherry what you will, but he's more right than wrong. And could you really blame him for being xenophobic? Why shouldn't he be given Canada has an immigration policy that's even more suicidal than the US's on a per capita basis, which is saying a'lot. It seems you're a "xenophobe" if you don't appove of out-of-control immigration levels which includes peoples who are a 1,000 years behind the times.


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