I had the opportunity to shake Rick Rypien’s hand shortly after he addressed a junior high school students awards ceremony in June of this year (photo). He had talked to the students about not giving up on their dreams. He shared his story of making it to the NHL even though he was never drafted. He inspired the young students and told them to, “ never be afraid to ask for help”.
Lethbridge Herald sports editor Dylan Purcell was present and interviewed him that day in June. In the Tuesday, August 16, edition of the Lethbridge Herald Purcell reflects on that interview. In discussing Rick’s role of enforcer/fighter on NHL teams he quotes Rick as saying, “It’s a violent job and it’s not always the way you planned it. Nobody dreams of being a fighter when they’re playing minor hockey”. The Herald also quotes Rick as saying, “you are fighting guys every night, usually they are a lot bigger than you and that can put a lot of pressure on you”.
Earlier this year, another NHL enforcer, Derek Boogaard, passed away after a battle with addictions.
Winnipeg Jet's Assistant GM Craig Heisinger said of Rick, "Just a simple guy with some issues to deal with. There was no drug and alcohol issues. His issues were depression."
While it hasn’t publicly been stated, it appears Rick's death may have been result of non-accidental self-injury. This has not been confirmed. In the past we at hockeyhistory.org have posted on the profound historical impact of suicide in the professional hockey community and the suicide prevention efforts by many in this community. This has always been one of the posts our readers have gone to most. To read it go to: Hockey, Suicide and Suicide Prevention and