SPORT-SCAN DAILY BRIEF NHL 8/17/2011 Boston Bruins Vancouver Canucks 576556 Parade set for Stanley Cup in Vermont 576585 Canucks GM Gillis, former teammates ‘extremely shocked’ by Rick Rypien’s death Calgary Flames 576586 Bling not the thing for Rick Rypien, say former junior hockey 576557 Hockey world mourns Rypien colleagues 576558 Flame conditioning coach makes summer house calls 576587 ‘Forever a Canuck #37’: Fans mourn Rick Rypien’s death 576588 Rick Rypien 'seemed to be in a good place,' but had battled Detroit Red Wings depression for a decade 576559 Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader has potential for bright 576589 Gallagher: Rypien never easy to read future 576590 'Little' Rypien was a Regina fan favourite because of his 576560 Red Wings' Danny Cleary gets a bobblehead; Todd Bertuzzi huge heart calls shenanigans 576591 ‘I wish I could have been there for him’ 576561 Red Wings invite Fabian Brunnstrom to training camp 576592 Rick Rypien was one of her boys 576562 Red Wings give shot to former Star Fabian Brunnstrom 576593 Rick Rypien, former Canucks forward, dead at 27 576563 Red Wings renew affiliation agreement with Toledo Walleye 576594 Kurtenthoughts: Canucks Fans Are Pretty Much Despised of ECHL for another season 576595 Rick Rypien: a Canucks enigma Edmonton Oilers Washington Capitals 576564 Oilers again picked to finish last in West 576596 Capitals to host alumni game Sept. 23 576597 Not typical minor league towns Los Angeles Kings Websites 576565 Suite-night poll, part 2 576612 NBCSports.com / Fans, former teammates and foes NHL remember Rick Rypien 576566 NHL player Rypien remembered for gutsy battles on and off 576613 NBCSports.com / Bill Daly on Islanders watch party: ‘We do ice not approve of the use, based on what we know’ 576567 Canadian team preview: The Ottawa Senators 576614 Sportsnet.ca / A tough loss 576568 Top juniors to test NHL’s proposed new rules 576615 USA TODAY / Tributes pour in for NHL's Rick Rypien 576569 Player’s Death Follows Bouts of Depression 576570 NHL in mourning again after death of Rick Rypien Winnipeg Jets 576598 Rypien's troubles started in junior Ottawa Senators 576599 Jets never saw it coming 576571 Alfredsson feels ‘good to be back on the ice’ 576600 A TOUGH MAN AND A GOOD TEAMMATE 576572 Alfredsson gets back onto the ice 576601 Fighting for their livelihood Stop the madness 576602 Player's passing stuns lifelong Canucks fan Philadelphia Flyers 576603 Up close and personal with... TOBIAS ENSTROM 576573 NHL set to formally announce Flyers-Rangers Winter Classic 576604 Rypien will be missed: Heisinger at Citizens Bank Park 576605 Rypien's death hits NHL hard 576606 Former teammate: Rypien talked about bringing Stanley Cup Phoenix Coyotes to Winnipeg 576574 Phoenix Coyotes' Connor Murphy faces 2-4 months of rehab 576607 Lessons from Rypien tragedy after surgery 576608 Morrison recalls Rypien's respect 576609 Rypien family floored Pittsburgh Penguins 576610 Vancouver fans mourn Rypien 576575 Pens add seats; cap season-ticket sales 576611 Rypien mourned across league 576576 Seating capacity increases by 300 for home games SPORT-SCAN, INC. 941-284-4129 576577 Penguins add 300 seats at Consol Energy Center Tampa Bay Lightning 576578 Lightning preseason tickets go on sale Friday 576579 Lightning announce three game-time changes 576580 Tampa Bay Lightning preseason tickets on sale Friday 576581 Tampa Bay Lightning announces more game-time changes Toronto Maple Leafs 576582 Skinner figures to be NHL star for a long time 576583 Everything's riding on Leafs' Reimer 19 576584 Hanging a nickname on Reimer 8 576556 Boston Bruins Parade set for Stanley Cup in Vermont By Associated Press BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who helped bring the Stanley Cup to Boston, is bringing it to Vermont next. Thomas, a former standout at the University of Vermont, will showcase the trophy of the NHL champions at a Sept. 3 parade through downtown Burlington. Final plans for the event were announced Monday by the University of Vermont. The parade will start at 9:30 a.m. at the Lake Champlain waterfront and proceed to Church Street, where Thomas and officials will speak to the crowd. Boston Herald LOADED: 08.17.2011 576557 Calgary Flames Rypien is the second NHL fighter to die this off-season; New York Rangers heavyweight Derek Boogaard died in May due to an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone. Hockey world mourns Rypien “At the end of the day, we’re human beings,” Morrison said. “Guys deal with what every other person deals with on a regular basis. A lot of us have families. A lot of us have kids. We play hockey, and we’re in the spotlight in By Vicki Hall, Calgary Herald that sense. “But we have to deal with as much as the person beside you. It always seems to take something as tragic as this before everyone takes a step Rick Rypien was remembered as a ‘‘fearless’’ enforcer by Brendan back and realizes how fortunate they are. It’s very disheartening to see Morrison, who was a teammate while both played for the Vancouver cases like this.” Canucks. Morrison, now with the Calgary Flames, said of Rypien: “He would fight anybody.’’ Calgary Herald: LOADED: 08.17.2011 Like much of the hockey world, Calgary Flames centre Brendan Morrison struggled to keep his tenses straight in reflecting on the late Rick Rypien. A family member found the body of the former Vancouver Canucks enforcer Monday at his home in the Coleman. Rypien, 27, battled depression for the last decade. He signed with the Winnipeg Jets last month. “It’s a tragedy,” Morrison said Tuesday after a training session in Vancouver. “Here’s a guy who pretty much has his whole life in front of him. “It’s very difficult to see somebody not be able to carry on at such a young age.” Morrison can vividly remember the day the Vancouver Canucks called Rypien up to the NHL for the first time in 2005. An undrafted scrapper from the Regina Pats, Rypien hardly looked the part of a hockey pugilist. In fact, the Vancouver media guide generously listed him at five-foot-11, 190 pounds. “Very unassuming, when you look at him,” Morrison said. “He’s my size, and I’m not a very big guy. “He was thrilled, you know? We didn’t know a whole lot about him. We heard he was feisty. He played bigger than his size.” Morrison sat next to Rypien in the locker-room, and he advised the humble newcomer to simply play his game. To savour the experience of a lifetime. Rypien scored the first goal of his NHL career on his first shot. Not a bad way to start. But Rypien, the son of a former Canadian Golden Globe boxing champion, specialized in fighting. In windswept Crowsnest Pass, Wes Rypien had passed down the tricks of the trade to both of his sons. That fighting know-how gave Rick Rypien an edge over ever the most dangerous of NHL policemen. “I’m not a fighter,” Morrison said. “But from what I’ve seen over the years, he is one of the toughest guys, if not the toughest guys, pound for pound — that I have ever seen in hockey. “He was fearless. He would fight anybody. He would fight all the heavyweights, and he was 180 pounds. Technically, he was just so good. He could throw with both hands, and he could switch on the fly.” Morrison chuckled at the memory of the carnage. “He used to destroy some guys,” he said. “I don’t think they really knew what he brought to the table.” Morrison played with Rypien for parts of three seasons in Vancouver. The 36-year-old never knew, until last year, the demons his young teammate faced off the ice in terms of depression. Rypien took two personal leaves of absence from the Canucks to battle the disease. “When I played with him, I had no idea that was something he had to deal with,” Morrison said. “It wasn’t something that was talked about or brought out in the open. “It was something he was dealing with in his own way.” A month ago, Rypien told reporters in Winnipeg how excited he was to play for the Jets after wrapping up last season with the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose. 576558 Calgary Flames knockout punch from former Edmonton Oilers enforcer Steve MacIntyre. Ivanans missed the rest of the season with symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. Flame conditioning coach makes summer house calls “He has begun doing some training,” Feaster said. “He’s not doing the full program yet. But he has reported some progress. There’s more optimism on our part now than at the end of the season By Vicki Hall, “But we won’t know exactly where he stands until he gets into camp and is evaluated by the medial staff.” Forward Daymond Langkow will be ready to go when training camp opens Back in April, head coach Brent Sutter challenged underachieving centre next month, says Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster. “He’s been Matt Stajan to become stronger and quicker this summer through relentless fully training. No restrictions whatsoever.’’ effort and attention to detail in the gym. As part of a new way of doing business for the Calgary Flames, Rich So far, so good, according to information gathered on a visit by Hesketh. Hesketh has logged copious frequent flyer points this summer on behalf of his employer. “He has worked very hard,” Feaster said. “He is following the program. He is working with a personal trainer. He is really committed.” The Flames’ strength and conditioning coach has jetted all over Canada, the United States and Europe to check in on the players in the heart of their Which brings us to Niklas Hagman, another underachieving former Toronto summer training programs. Maple Leaf who recorded just 11 goals and 27 points last season. Hesketh even tracked down the elusive Miikka Kiprusoff at his summer Not good for a two-time 25-goal scorer. cabin in Finland and met up with sophomore centre Mikael Backlund in “Nik had a great conversation a little while back with Brent,” Feaster said. Sweden. “He talked about the fact that coming out of last season, he was When not travelling the world, Hesketh co-ordinates daily on-ice sessions disappointed in a lot of things with his game and felt he had to make some for veteran players in the Calgary area (including Daymond Langkow and changes with his training regimen. Cory Sarich) and Abbotsford Heat prospects (like Ryan Howse.) “He is going full-bore.” “We’ve had a very proactive, very comprehensive outreach program to our Calgary Herald: LOADED: 08.17.2011 players,” said general manager Jay Feaster. “This is unprecedented in terms of the out-reach. We are in touch with these guys on a very, very frequent basis.” The goal? No surprises come training camp in terms of out-of-shape players (bad) and unreported injuries (potentially even worse.) “We feel good right now,” Feaster said. “I touch wood everybody stays that way.” Langkow, 34, missed 78 games last season recovering from a fractured vertebra at the base of the neck. He suited up for four games at the end of the campaign, recording one assist. “One of the guys who has consistently been at the training sessions is Daymond,” Feaster said. “He was fully cleared at the end of the season. He’s been fully training. No restrictions whatsoever “He’s ready to go when camp opens.” Fellow centre Brendan Morrison underwent surgery in April to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. In a July news release to announce a new contract for the versatile forward, Feaster said he didn’t expect Morrison to be ready for training camp or the beginning of the regular season. The man himself is gunning to hit the ice with his teammates come mid- September at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “The big thing we’re going to have to do with him is to make sure he doesn’t overdo it,” Feaster said. “He’s pushing to be ready for camp, and our point to him is to follow what the doctors are telling him and make sure he’s fully healed. “But he’s progressing very, very nicely. He’s very happy and so is the medical staff.” Also on the medical front, Cory Sarich played hurt for much of the 2010-11 season without breathing a word about it to the media. The physical defenceman battled osteitis pubitis, an inflammation of the pelvic joint between the two ends of the pubic bone. Especially common in soccer and Australian rules football, the condition causes intense groin pain. “It’s something he played with last year,” Feaster said. “ He played through it. It’s something he’s receiving treatment for ongoing this summer. “At this point in time, all indications are that he should be ready to go for camp. We’ll evaluate obviously when we get into camp.” Another player set for evaluation at camp is Raitis Ivanans. The pugilist suffered a concussion in the first game of the 2010-11 season on a 576559 Detroit Red Wings Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader has potential for bright future By HELENE ST. JAMES With the Red Wings' roster for the upcoming season pretty well set, it's a good time to take a closer look at select players. Today's subject: forward Justin Abdelkader. Abdelkader, 24, had seven goals and 19 points in 74 games in 2010-11. He has no points in 11 playoff games. Last season saw Abdelkader grow in his first full season with the Wings. He showed his versatility playing center and wing mostly on the third and fourth lines, where he used his speed and instincts as a defensive forward. He didn't fare as well in the playoffs, when he uncharacteristically took several bad penalties. Abdelkader, like Darren Helm, is one of the Wings' building blocks -- not a star player, but the type of utility forward every team needs. He's a strong skater, he can penalty kill, and he's got an offensive side that shows especially when he plays on a skilled line (like last season, when he was with Danny Cleary and Mike Modano). At 6-feet-1, 215 pounds, Abdelkader is one of the team's bigger forwards. He developed his fighting skills last summer and held his own during the three tussles he got into last season. Fighting isn't a big part of today's NHL, but good for Abdelkader that he has that in his repertoire if needed. Primarily, though, he needs to use his size to hit defensemen and wear them down. Abdelkader also has shown his work ethic when it comes to face-offs. He won 46.5% of the 318 he took during '09-10 and improved to winning 52.8% of the 430 he took last season. Abdelkader has the potential for a bright future. He's versatile and just needs to keep developing. NOTEBOOK: The Wings have told forward Fabian Brunnstrom -- whom they pursued three years ago only to see him sign with Dallas -- he's welcome to come to camp and try out for the team. "He called us, and we told him to come on in," assistant general manager Jim Nill said. "He's had a disappointing two seasons in the NHL and knows this is his last chance." Brunnstrom, 26, spent last season with Toronto's farm team. He has 19 goals, 40 points and is minus-11 in 99 NHL games. He'll have to really impress to make the Wings, who are well-stocked up front. Detroit Free Press LOADED: 08.17.2011 576560 Detroit Red Wings Red Wings' Danny Cleary gets a bobblehead; Todd Bertuzzi calls shenanigans By HELENE ST. JAMES This is the last week for fans to vote on which Detroit Red Wings will be featured as a bobblehead giveaway next season, and forward Todd Bertuzzi is throwing his support behind young teammate Darren Helm. Danny Cleary won week 3 with a landslide 90% of votes. His election campaign included such radical strategy as filming a video with a message that was hard to miss: “Hi, this is Dan Cleary. Vote for me for my bobblehead. I really want one. Please. Don’t vote for Bertuzzi -- his head is way too big, it won’t even fit on a bobblehead anyway.” Bertuzzi finished third in voting last week, behind Justin Abdelkader. Cleary’s victory, Bertuzzi contends, wasn’t exactly above-board. “He cheated,” Bertuzzi told the Free Press. “And I’m too old for a Bobblehead. Helm or Abby need one. I’m voting for Helm.” Helm sits next to Bertuzzi in the locker room, and the two have become good friends. Last Halloween, Helm dressed up as Bertuzzi for the team’s costume party. Abdelkader leads the voting on detroitredwings.com for the fourth and final week, holding at nearly 70% as of this afternoon. The poll runs through Monday. Bertuzzi, meanwhile, is looking forward to the Jan. 12, 2012 game against Phoenix, when the first 7,500 fans at Joe Louis Arena will get the 6.5-inch Cleary figurine. “Can’t wait to see Cleary sign 7,500 bobbleheads after the game, like he promised all our fans,” Bertuzzi said. Detroit Free Press LOADED: 08.17.2011 576561 Detroit Red Wings Red Wings invite Fabian Brunnstrom to training camp By HELENE ST. JAMES The Detroit Red Wings have told forward Fabian Brunnstrom -- whom they pursued three years ago, only to see him sign with the Dallas Stars -- that he’s welcome to come to training camp and try out for the team. “He called us, and we told him to come on in,” assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “He’s had a disappointing two seasons in the NHL and knows this is his last chance.” Brunnstrom, 26, spent last season with Toronto’s farm team. He has 19 goals, 40 points and is minus-11 in 99 NHL games. He’ll have to impress mightily to make the Wings, who are well-stocked up front. Training camp starts next month in Traverse City. Detroit Free Press LOADED: 08.17.2011 576562 Detroit Red Wings Red Wings give shot to former Star Fabian Brunnstrom Ted Kulfan Detroit— It took about three years but the Red Wings finally have Fabian Brunnstrom. Brunnstrom, a Swedish forward who was a much-publicized undrafted free agent in 2008, will come to training camp on a pro tryout. "It's about competition, and if he comes in and plays better than someone else, we'll find a place (for him)," Jim Nill, the Wings' assistant general manager, said. "Things probably haven't gone as he would have liked, but this is an opportunity." Brunnstrom, 26, signed with the Stars after a hyped free-agent tour and scored three goals in his first NHL game. He wound up with 17 goals and 12 assists in his rookie season in 55 games. But Brunnstrom, who's 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds, only had two goals and nine assists in 44 games with Dallas the following season, and last season was traded to Toronto. Brunnstrom, though, never played for the Maple Leafs, spending the season with Toronto's minor league team (four goals, 10 assists). "The big thing is consistency, we want to see consistency out of him," Nill said. "He understands now what it takes to be a pro at this level. He maybe didn't understand that coming out of Sweden. "He's in the same boat that Mikael Samuelsson or Danny Cleary were, guys coming in on pro tryouts. It worked out for those guys." Brunnstrom likely won't make the Wings, but could give the organization some valuable depth The Wings already have 13 forwards on one-way contracts and Cory Emmerton is out of minor league options and would have to be exposed to waivers if he were to be sent down. Nill said there has been no discussion as to the possibility of Brunnstrom playing in Grand Rapids if he doesn't make the Wings. Detroit News LOADED: 08.17.2011 576563 Detroit Red Wings Red Wings renew affiliation agreement with Toledo Walleye of ECHL for another season Michael Zuidema DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings announced Tuesday afternoon that they have renewed their affiliation agreement with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL through the 2011-12 season. Toledo has served as the Red Wings’ AA-level affiliate since the Walleye’s inaugural 2009-10 campaign. “We’re very excited to have the Walleye back as part of our organization for the upcoming season,” Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said in a news release. “Toledo’s been a great partner for us over the years and they’ve proven to be a strong ECHL franchise since reentering the league. We look forward to watching our prospects continue to develop in a city with a strong minor league hockey tradition.” The Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League are the Red Wings’ primary minor-league affiliate. Their agreement is set to expire after this season, but both sides have indicated that the relationship will continue in the future. Detroit News LOADED: 08.17.2011 576564 Edmonton Oilers Oilers again picked to finish last in West Postmedia News It could be a long winter for fans of some Canadian teams if the pre-season National Hockey League predictions are to be believed. The Hockey News unveiled its selections for the last-place teams in each conference on Monday, and both squads hail from north of the border. The publication isn't convinced the Edmonton Oilers' rebuild is over just yet, as the team from northern Alberta is ranked last in the Western Conference. The Hockey News had Edmonton last in its pre-season predictions a year ago and that's precisely where the Oilers finished. The Ottawa Senators are pegged for 15th place in the Eastern Conference after finishing 13th in the conference last season. The Senators are just beginning to rebuild their squad after a decade-plus as a playoff contender. This year, they're expected to ice a young team and could face a steep learning curve. Last season, the magazine picked the Florida Panthers to finish last in the East and that's exactly what happened. The sports books in Las Vegas believe the two clubs have slightly better prospects this season. Both are given 65 to 1 odds of winning the Stanley Cup by vegasinsider.com, which ranks them tied for 25th in the 30-team league. The Panthers are the long shots at 125 to 1. Things are much brighter on the West Coast, where the Vancouver Canucks are the pre-season Las Vegas favourites to hoist the Cup. Finalists a season ago, the Canucks are given 6-1 odds to win their first NHL championship. Pittsburgh is next at 7-1 and the newlook Philadelphia Flyers are 9-1. The Montreal Canadiens are the next best Canadian-based team at 20-1, followed by the Calgary Flames (35-1) and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets (both 50-1). NHL teams open training camps next month and the regular season begins Oct. 6. Edmonton Journal: LOADED: 08.17.2011 576565 Los Angeles Kings Suite-night poll, part 2 Rich Hammond As a follow-up to the post about the “suite” games, Frank did some yeoman’s work over the past few days. Noting that, in the comments, there was a bit of a groundswell for a game against a higher-profile opponent — even at a cost increase — Frank worked with Larry Abel of Staples Center and came up with a new alternative for the first of the two nights. The Nov. 19 game against Detroit (a Saturday) has now been made available, at the cost of $100 per ticket. That’s in contrast to $75 for the other games. So here’s how we will handle it. Since the polling for the first night was close, we’ll take the top two games and then add in the Detroit game and see which one people favor. Again, please don’t vote unless you believe there’s a realistic possibility you will be able to attend the game. Thanks… Getting this done far in advance should make for a memorable, fun night for all involved! LA Kings Insider: LOADED: 08.17.2011 576566 NHL He often listed his father and older brother, Wes Jr., as his inspiration, saying at one point that his family was "the biggest part of everything because of the support they give me." NHL player Rypien remembered for gutsy battles on and off ice After multiple teams offered Rypien a contract this summer, Roy said one thing he'll never forget is how much he wrestled with telling those he turned down that he was going to the Jets. By JAMES MIRTLE "He had such a hard time calling the teams to say no," Roy said. "It was almost comical. He felt so bad turning down another team. I think that typifies the type of person he was." Rick Rypien was never drafted into the WHL, but he became a charismatic captain of the Regina Pats, scoring his only ever hat trick in his final home Roy added that he was always struck by Rypien's deep affinity for the game as a thank you to their fans. Crowsnest Pass area in Alberta, where he grew up, hosted a hockey school and did charity work every year. He was never drafted into the NHL, but he made it there through sheer hard work, fighting men four or five inches taller than him with regularity. "He was one of those guys that really wanted to give back a lot," Roy said. "A couple months ago, he was asked to speak at his old elementary school To all those that knew him, Rypien was a battler, although sadly one of his and you could tell that meant a lot to him. He was pretty proud to be able to biggest battles was off the ice. do that. And it was one the popular former Vancouver Canuck ultimately lost. "The sad part is he and I talked about how this was going to be his breakthrough year. He was going to show everybody that he was a lot more Rypien's body was discovered by his father, Wes, at his off-season home in of a player than people thought." Coleman, Alta., on Monday morning. After years of suffering from depression - something that has affected other family members and which With a report from Matthew Sekeres in Vancouver threatened several times to end his hockey career - the illness took his life. Toronto Globe And Mail LOADED: 08.17.2011 By Tuesday, all 2,000 residents of the town of Coleman were in mourning for the only NHL player they had ever called their own. Flags flew at half mast at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, where Rypien had made a name for himself as a win-at-all-costs minor leaguer and recently signed as a free agent with the Jets. That had been a happy time, only a month ago, and he had talked with those close to him this summer about his fresh start, about making a bigger impact and about putting his troubled past behind him. "Obviously he's had his battles," said Allain Roy, Rypien's long-time agent and friend. "Everybody supported Rick, from his family to his teammates, everybody was first class as far as how they dealt with everything. "He was a warrior on and off the ice. But with a big heart. It's sad that it ended this way. Everybody is in a state of shock still." Rypien's battle with depression was always kept quiet during his time with the Canucks, even during two extended leaves of absence that team officials were careful to note were not drug or alcohol related. The first public acknowledgement of what his off ice problems were came only on Tuesday, as Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger, the man who had signed Rypien as a free agent out of junior to play in the AHL, knew intimately what had gone on. Both Roy and Canucks GM Mike Gillis declined to comment on his struggles with depression, although Gillis outlined how they had helped him in his fight. "We relied on experts," Gillis said. "And we relied on both NHLPA and NHL doctors. We relied on different facilities... I felt strongly that we were headed on a really positive course. It didn't turn out that way." "Did we see any signs?" Heisinger said. "No we didn't." Gillis had believed Rypien hit a turning point after an incident in Minnesota last October where he grabbed a fan, earning a six-game suspension and a sit down with league officials. Not long after, Rypien's second leave of absence began, marking the end of his NHL career. "The way he handled himself in that hearing and the conversations that we had afterward, how committed he was, that's going to stick with me the rest of my life," Gillis said. Even though Rypien ultimately played only 119 NHL games - little more than a full season - his story had become well known, as his father was a Canadian boxing champ who trained both his hockey playing boys to throw punches just as he had for years. Rypien gained respect for taking on fighters well out of his weight class, as the scrappy 5-foot-11, 195-pound winger was branded the toughest pound- for-pound scrapper in the league. 576567 NHL Toronto Globe And Mail LOADED: 08.17.2011 Canadian team preview: The Ottawa Senators By James Mirtle The fourth in a series of seven breakdowns of how teams will do in the coming NHL season Since we're well into the dog days of summer as far as hockey news is concerned, the least we can do is offer a quick look ahead to what's coming for the seven Canadian NHL teams this season. With a month to go until training camp, I've asked a blogger from each city to weigh in on how their team has changed since last season and where they believe they rank in their conference. We'll run one team every weekday, with today the fourth of our series in the Ottawa Senators. Who's in? Alex Auld, Stephane Da Costa, Nikita Filatov, Zenon Konopka Who's out? Pascal Leclaire, Curtis McElhinney, Ryan Shannon, Marek Svatos The Sens plummeted in the standings last year, dropping 20 points and from fifth in the East to 13th in the span of a single season. The fifth-worst team in the league overall (and just a hair ahead of the bottom feeding Islanders and Panthers in the conference), Ottawa scored the second fewest goals in the NHL, finished tied for 24th in goals against and had only Jason Spezza put up more than 45 points. To make matters worse, a late season trade brought in netminder Craig Anderson, who promptly went 11-5-1 with a .939 save percentage the rest of the way to bump the Sens' draft pick out of the top three and earn a hefty raise on a new deal. (The goalie they dealt away in Brian Elliott, meanwhile, worked wonders in helping the Avalanche nosedive in the overall standings.) It was all pretty ugly, and it culminated in GM Bryan Murray getting a new three-year deal on the second last day of the season. For a few thoughts on what's in store for the Sens this coming season, here's Peter Raaymakers [http://https://twitter.com/#!/silversevensens] from Silver Seven Sens [http://www.silversevensens.com] with reasons for optimism, pessimism and a midsummer prediction as to how they'll finish. Reasons for optimism: "Ottawa will see a full season of Craig Anderson, who looked darn good in his extended dress rehearsal last season. There's also a new guy behind the bench, and Paul MacLean has a fresh approach, a new attitude and a lot of winning on his resume. Oh, and the team is hosting the all-star game this season so we can be optimistic there will be one or two Sens taking part in it." Causes for concern: "Foremost is the fact that the Senators haven't improved themselves, on paper, at all. They've brought in Nikita Filatov and Alex Auld, neither of whom will (likely) get Ottawa into contention. By design, this year will be another difficult year in the 'Senate Reform' rebuild, and the emphasis will be on developing players. This is concerning in the immediate term, even if it'll likely be better off for the team in the long run." Predicted finish in the East: "Any improvement will have to come from Anderson doing yeoman's work in net, and MacLean performing miracles behind the bench. Still, there are so many question marks surrounding those two that I can't see the Sens finishing higher in the standings than last season, especially with other teams in the Northeast Division having made serious progress in improving themselves (Buffalo and Toronto most notably). I'll predict the Senators will again finish 13th in the Eastern Conference, with the caveat that they could do a fair bit better if a lot of things that went wrong last season go right this one." Now I'll turn it over to you in the comments section: How do you think the Sens and their rebuild will do this season? Wednesday: The Toronto Maple Leafs 576568 NHL • Removing the trapezoid that restricts goaltenders’ puck-handling, allowing goaltender to play puck anywhere. • Strict enforcement of goaltenders covering puck outside crease. Goalies Top juniors to test NHL’s proposed new rules not permitted to cover puck unless they have skate contact with the crease. PENALTIES Bob Mitchell • For delayed penalties, the offending team must exit the zone in possession of puck to stop play. It should give the non-offending team more time with an extra attacker and potentially generate more offence. The way on ice battles in the NHL will be waged in the future — perhaps not quite the immediate future — will be on display in Toronto Wednesday • All penalties to be served in their entirety. Increased goal scoring should and Thursday. result. The guinea pigs — more than 30 of Canada’s top 2012 draft eligible junior NETS players — will test out a variety of possible rule changes under the watchful • A yellow verification line parallel to the goal line, set back slightly more eyes of a dozen NHL GMs at the day-long league’s research, development than 3 inches (size of the puck) from the goal line. It should help off-ice and orientation camp at the MasterCard Centre for Excellence. officials determine if a disputed goal has been scored. In the event there is Besides testing their talents in competitions that will form part of the something (water bottle, glove, pad, etc.) blocking the view of the goal line, SuperSkills event at this season’s All-Star Game in Ottawa, the best juniors this line could be used to “verify” that the puck has completely crossed the in the country will also scrimmage using the possible rule changes. goal line. Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave • Looking at a 40-inch deep “shallow net” instead of existing 44-inch deep Tippet will run the benches. net frame. Supposed to provide more ice behind the net, improve passing angles and makes it easier for wrap-around attempts. A smorgasbord of new rules and technical innovations will be examined, including some interesting new wrinkles designed to make the game faster CAMERA and more exciting. Unfortunately, the event isn’t open to the public. Some of • New camera angles include in-net cams and mounted cams focused on the concepts being tested include: the goal line to help verify goals. OVERTIME • Overhead cameras to assist Hockey Operations reviews of various game Seven minutes of overtime instead of five with both 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 situations. scenarios tested. Three minutes of 3-on-3 play to follow four minutes of Toronto Star LOADED: 08.17.2011 scoreless 4-on-4 action. More offence is expected to be generated. SHOOTOUTS Five players from each team will shoot and if the score remains tied, the same players can take another crack in a sudden-death format. Same rule applies for proposed three-player shootouts. GAME PLAY • No touch icing. Whistle blows as soon as puck crosses line so potential dangerous situations are eliminated. • Hybrid icing. If an official determines the attacking player would get to puck first, no whistle is blown but if he thinks defender will be first, whistle is immediately blown as soon as puck crosses line. Dangerous collisions should be avoided. • No icing permitted while shorthanded. • Line changes only permitted on the fly except after goals and on power plays. • Allow hand passes in all zones instead of just defensive zone. • No line changes for offending team committing an offside until next play stoppage. Tired players will remain on ice, coaches won’t get key matchups and more offence will result. BEAR HUG Players will be permitted to wrap their opponent up when taking him into the boards without being called for a holding penalty. This could limit dangerous hits along the boards while allowing body contact and the ability to play the man. FACEOFFS • Officials will drop the puck in the offending team’s zone following an offside, potentially leading to more goal scoring. • All faceoffs in circles. • A designated linesman will drop puck for all faceoffs in an effort to bring consistency to the faceoff. LINE CHANGES Limiting line changes at stoppages in play should speed up the action. GOALIES 576569 NHL Rypien was injured often in his N.H.L. career, but none of the reported injuries included concussions, which experts say can trigger depression. “When players get injured and have to sit out for long stretches, it can wear Player’s Death Follows Bouts of Depression on them mentally,” Allain Roy, Rypien’s agent for more than 10 years, said Tuesday. “But Rick was excited about coming to Winnipeg and was looking forward to the upcoming season.” By JEFF Z. KLEIN Rypien was granted two leaves of absence by the Canucks in the last three seasons to deal with what were then referred to as personal problems. His second leave of absence followed an incident in Minnesota last Oct. 19, Rick Rypien, the scrappy 27-year-old Winnipeg Jets forward who was found when he fought an opponent, pushed a linesman and then grabbed a fan dead Monday, was considered perhaps the best pound-for-pound fighter in on his way to the dressing room to serve a penalty. the N.H.L. But for more than a decade he battled depression, a disorder that caused him to take two leaves of absence from the Vancouver “It’s inexcusable, what I did,” Rypien said at the time. Canucks. He was suspended for six games. It was a relatively lenient sentence, When Rypien did not show up Monday for a scheduled physical with his perhaps mitigated by league officials’ knowledge of what Rypien was going new team, the Jets, team officials grew concerned, said Craig Heisinger, through. the Jets’ assistant general manager. A family member later found Rypien’s body at his house in Coleman, Alberta, his hometown. The Royal Canadian When he returned last March, Rypien said he had dealt with “a personal Mounted Police said Rypien’s death was “sudden” but “not suspicious.” matter, a rare issue.” He added, “I missed a lot of hockey, but certain things needed to be dealt with.” “He was just a simple guy with some issues to deal with,” Heisinger said Tuesday at a news conference. Gerald Narciso contributed reporting from Vancouver, British Columbia. Rypien was a fourth-line forward of slightly below average size who was New York Times LOADED: 08.17.2011 noted for his combativeness. He fought often — 39 times in his 119-game N.H.L. career — while scoring only 9 goals and 7 assists. But he was not known as an enforcer in the same sense as Derek Boogaard, the Rangers forward found dead of an accidental overdose of oxycodone and alcohol in his Twin Cities apartment in May, and other hulking heavyweights whose primary function is to fight. Rather, at 5 feet 11 inches and 190 pounds, Rypien fell into the category of the useful, smaller, “character” player, willing to take on anyone. In each of Rypien’s 39 N.H.L. fights, his opponent was taller, according to Dropyourgloves.com, a Web site that tracks hockey fights. In 2009, he fought Hal Gill, a 6-7 Montreal defenseman. When he heard of Rypien’s death, Mike Commodore, a Detroit defenseman, said on Twitter: “He was a warrior. Hit me so hard my eyes couldn’t focus for 30 secs.” Jason Jaffray, a road roommate of Rypien’s with Vancouver and the Canucks’ Manitoba Moose farm club, said: “He was a guy who wouldn’t back down from anyone. He was a guy that was definitely fearless.” Fearlessness was a trait that Rypien most likely acquired from his father, Wes, a former boxer. “He was a Canadian Golden Gloves champion when he was 19 or 20,” Rypien said in 2008. “He still works out to stay in shape and still shows me stuff — I’d have to give it to him on toughness.” Though undrafted, Rypien was signed by Vancouver in 2005 after a junior career in which he was captain of the Regina Pats in Saskatchewan. While he was with the Pats, his girlfriend was killed in a car accident. Peter Engelhardt, whose family Rypien was living with at the time, told The Calgary Herald that Rypien “changed a little bit, right then and there” but added that “everybody’s going to, when you have something like this happen.” During the next six years, Rypien shuttled between the Canucks and their minor league affiliate, the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Moose. The Canucks did not re-sign him when his contract expired at the end of last season. He then signed with the Jets, who were the Atlanta Thrashers until they were sold this summer. “There’s a lot I’m going to miss about him,” said Heisinger, who was the Moose’s general manager during Rypien’s six years with the Vancouver organization. “Certainly there were no drug or alcohol issues. Depression is the one word that has been used, and that’s accurate.” Rypien’s mother, Nola Rypien, reached at home in Coleman on Tuesday, said, “We’re not doing well — it’s hard. “We’re just trying to make funeral arrangements,” she said, fighting back tears. “I’m sorry, this is not a good time.” It was unclear whether an autopsy was ordered. Autopsies and their results are not public information under Alberta law, said Jane Bartlett, a senior medical investigator for the medical examiner’s office in Calgary. 576570 NHL NHL in mourning again after death of Rick Rypien By Jesse Spector Sadly, much like Boogaard, the situation with Rypien appears to be one where a young man had sought help for personal problems, and was described by friends as optimistic about the future, only to wind up suddenly dead. According to multiple reports, Rypien’s battle was with depression, which haunted him for most of his adult life. Rypien spent most of last season sidelined as he dealt with his issues. “Over the course of the last three seasons, we participated in a variety of different initiatives with him and e were all really close with him,” Canucks GM Mike Gillis said in Toronto, quoted by The Associated Press. “We had an understanding of what we thought was going on and had a number of outside agencies involved in assisting us, and we felt we were on course.” Rypien had signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Winnipeg Jets, and was set to return to Manitoba after playing there with the AHL’s Moose on his way up the chain in the Vancouver system. The nature of the personal battle for Rypien was different than Boogaard, but the stories are hauntingly similar – young, tough hockey players with major personal demons, trying to fight against them when they died. Whatever police in Alberta find out in the course of their investigation into what is considered a non-suspicious death, here’s hoping that those who have serious problems, both in and out of the hockey world, continue to seek the help that they need. Here is some reaction to Rypien’s death from NHL players on Twitter… “Sad to hear about Rick Rypien. I was looking forward to playing with him in Winnipeg. Thoughts are with his family and friends. #RIPRypien” – Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd “In disbelief about Ripper. Sat beside him in the locker room in Van. Such a good kid with a huge heart. Thoughts with his family.” – Calgary Flames center Brendan Morrison “My Thoughts and Prayers are with the Rypien Family… The world lost a good one in Ryper… Great teammate and even better friend.” – Colorado Avalanche defenseman Shane O’Brien “R.I.P Rick Rypien. Not a big guy but he was a gamer! Thoughts go out to his family #allheart” – San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe “The hockey community lost another good member today. RIP Rick, never met you. But you played a tough position and did it well. #nails” – Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan New York Daily News LOADED: 08.17.2011 576571 Ottawa Senators Alfredsson feels ‘good to be back on the ice’ By martin cleary, OTTAWA — Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson skated for more than an hour on Tuesday and pronounced his back “felt fine.” Alfredsson took to the ice for the first time since he curtailed his 2010-11 NHL season on Feb. 7 in Vancouver and had back surgery in June. “It felt good to be back on the ice,” Alfredsson told Rob Brodie of the team’s website OttawaSenators.com. “I was on for maybe an hour, an hour and 20 (minutes), did some drills and played a little bit of a scrimmage. It was fun. I was tired, but everything held up well and the back felt fine.” Alfredsson, 38, opened his 16th NHL season, all with the Senators, by skating at the Bell Sensplex in Kanata. He only played 54 NHL games last season, the lowest total for one season in his pro career. Alfredsson is confident he’ll be ready for training camp in September. “Obviously, the first time on the ice is always a struggle,” he said. “But for being the first time, it felt good and I’ll be back out skating (on) Thursday again.” Recuperating from off-season surgery isn’t new to Alfredsson. He needed surgery last summer to correct a sports hernia injury. Ottawa Citizen LOADED: 08.17.2011 576572 Ottawa Senators Alfredsson gets back onto the ice By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson took his first strides to recovery on Tuesday. After having surgery to repair a disc problem with his back, the 38-year-old Senators captain skated for the first time this summer and plans to be back on the ice Thursday to gear up his preparations for training camp Sept. 17. Alfredsson, who missed 28 games last season, has been working out and strengthening his back since surgery June 10. He was on the ice for 80 minutes Tuesday and even took part in a light scrimmage at the Bell Sensplex. "It felt good to be back on the ice," said Alfredsson. "I did some drills and played a little bit of a scrimmage. It was fun. I was tired, but everything held up well and the back felt fine." In this case, it was better late than never. While Alfredsson had told reporters he planned to skate last week, that never materialized and there was some concern about whether he'd be back in time for the start of camp. Alfredsson hasn't suited since the injury, which caused him to have pain in his right leg, and forced him out of a game Feb. 7 in Vancouver. He attempted to recover without surgery, but never felt strong enough to make a comeback. He played only 54 games -- the lowest in his 15-year career with Ottawa -- and was frustrated by the fact he wasn't able to make a full recovery. Surgery was the last option and he waited as long as he could before electing to have it. Alfredsson said he's in good shape and on schedule. "Obviously, the first time on the ice is always a struggle," said Alfredsson. "But for being the first time, it felt good and I'll be back out on Thursday again." Ottawa Sun LOADED: 08.17.2011 576573 Philadelphia Flyers NHL set to formally announce Flyers-Rangers Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park By FRANK SERAVALLI THERE IS a curious afternoon contest currently penciled in for Monday, Jan. 2 on the Flyers' schedule. Technically, without a peep from the NHL since the league's matrix was released on June 23, it's just one of 82 games on the Flyers' slate. That is all expected to change next week when the NHL will finally - formally and officially - announce Citizens Bank Park as the home of the 2012 Winter Classic between the Flyers and New York Rangers, a league source told the Daily News. It will be by far the latest announcement of the summer compared to the previous four Winter Classic setups, each of which were announced in July. The Phillies are expected to finally sign off on the rental terms for Citizens Bank Park to make the deal "done and documented," the source said. NHL officials have visited Citizens Bank Park numerous times over the past few weeks to hammer out the details. "The event is just a unique one to the Phillies and it has taken time to go through the issues," the source said. So far, no ticket arrangements have been announced, even for Flyers and Phillies season ticketholders. That could soon change. Philadelphia Inquirer / Daily News LOADED: 08.17.2011 576574 Phoenix Coyotes Phoenix Coyotes' Connor Murphy faces 2-4 months of rehab after surgery Jim Gintonio Connor Murphy, the Coyotes' first-round draft pick in the 2011 draft (20th overall) underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus. He was injured during USA Hockey's national junior evalulation camp last week. Murphy's recovery time is estimated at two to four months before he can resume playing. The defenseman signed an entry-level contract earlier this month and will play the upcoming season for Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League. Arizona Republic LOADED: 08.17.2011 576575 Pittsburgh Penguins Pens add seats; cap season-ticket sales By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review The Penguins again will cap sales for full season-ticket plans at 15,000 for the 2011-12 season. Penguins CEO and president David Morehouse said 99 percent of their season-ticket plans have been renewed for the upcoming season. Three-hundred seats have been added to Consol Energy Center in the offseason to increase capacity to 18,387 for hockey. The Penguins will sell group tickets, and offer the Student Rush ticket program, while still making more than 2,000 tickets per game available on a single-game basis. Individual game tickets go on sale in September, on a date yet to be determined. Tribune Review LOADED: 08.17.2011 576576 Pittsburgh Penguins Seating capacity increases by 300 for home games By Shelly Anderson The addition of 300 seats will not change the appearance of the interior of Consol Energy Center. The Penguins have added 300 seats to Consol Energy Center, bringing the capacity for hockey games to 18,387 for the team's second season at the arena. The new capacity retains the original tie-in to the No. 87 worn by Penguins captain and star center Sidney Crosby. Team vice president Tom McMillan said Tuesday that the additional seats aren't in one or two blocks but are scattered throughout the building. The Penguins monitored the space in the opening season and found areas where small numbers of seats could be added comfortably. McMillan said the additional seats will not change the appearance of the interior of the arena. Penguins CEO and president David Morehouse said in a statement that the club has had a 99 percent season-ticket renewal rate. The Penguins have a season-ticket waiting list and have sold out 210 home games in a row. The team has again capped the number of seats available for season-ticket plans at the equivalent of 15,000 per game, leaving room for about 2,000 individual-game ticket sales as well as group sales and the popular student rush program. Single-game tickets will go on sale next month, although prices and the on- sale date have not been released. Details of the student rush program for 2011-12 also are not yet available. NHL miffed at Islanders The NHL is not happy that the New York Islanders are sanctioning a viewing party Friday night at a sports bar. MSG Plus, the Islanders' TV rights holder, will rebroadcast the Feb. 11 brawl-filled, 9-3 Islanders win against the visiting Penguins. "We do not approve of the use that is being suggested, and we are looking into it," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. The game produced 346 penalty minutes, a $100,000 fine for the Islanders and three suspensions. Penguins owner and Hall of Fame center Mario Lemieux chastised the NHL in a statement afterward. Penguins general manager Ray Shero expressed his displeasure over the Islanders' party plan Monday. Tip-ins Forward Dustin Jeffrey (knee surgery) has been cleared for light skating. ... Russian forward Daniil Tarasov has been invited to join the Penguins' contingent in a preseason rookie tournament next month in Oshawa, Ontario, on an amateur tryout. In his first full season in North America, Tarasov, 20, had 37 goals, 75 points in 57 games for Indiana in the junior USHL. ... Don Granato, brother of Penguins assistant Tony Granato, was named as one of two head coaches of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., and will guide the U.S. national under-17 team this season. Post Gazette LOADED: 08.17.2011 576577 Pittsburgh Penguins Penguins add 300 seats at Consol Energy Center By Shelly Anderson The Penguins have added 300 seats for games at Consol Energy Center, bringing the capacity to 18,387 for the second season at the arena. The original capacity, 18,087, was tied to the No. 87 worn by Penguins captain and star center Sidney Crosby. The team has again capped the number of seats available for season ticket plans at the equivalent of 15,000 per game, leaving room for 2,000 individual-game ticket sales as well as group sales and the popular student rush program. Individual-game tickets will go on sale next month, although the date has not been set. Details of the student rush program for 2011-12 also are not yet available. Penguins CEO and president David Morehouse said in a statement that the club has had a 99 percent season ticket renewal. The Penguins have a season ticket waiting list and have sold out 210 home games in a row. Post Gazette LOADED: 08.17.2011 576578 Tampa Bay Lightning Lightning preseason tickets go on sale Friday By TBO.COM Tickets to the Tampa Bay Lightning's lone preseason home game will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m., the team announced. Tickets for the Sept. 23 game against the Florida Panthers at the St. Pete Times Forum start at $17.75. For information or to purchase tickets visit tampabaylightning.com, ticketmaster.com or call 1-800-745-3000. Tampa Tribune LOADED: 08.17.2011 576579 Tampa Bay Lightning Lightning announce three game-time changes By TBO.COM The Tampa Bay Lightning announced on Tuesday start-time changes for three regular-season games. Road games at Philadelphia on March 26 and Boston on March 27 will start at 7:30 p.m. The home game against Washington on April 2 will start at 7 p.m., 30 minutes earlier than previously scheduled. Tampa Tribune LOADED: 08.17.2011 576580 Tampa Bay Lightning Tampa Bay Lightning preseason tickets on sale Friday By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer Tickets for the Tampa Bay Lightning's only preseason game at the St. Pete Times Forum — Sept. 23 against the Panthers — will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, the team announced. There are no box office sales because of the ongoing construction at the Times Forum. Tickets can be purchased at tampabaylightning.com, ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. For additional information, call 813-301-6600. St. Petersburg Times LOADED: 08.17.2011 576581 Tampa Bay Lightning Tampa Bay Lightning announces more game-time changes By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer The yet-to-be-announced national television schedule continues to play havoc with the Tampa Bay Lightning schedule as the team announced three more game-time changes: March 26 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. March 27 at Boston, 7:30 p.m. April 2 vs. Capitals at St. Pete Times Forum, 7 p.m. That makes eight games with new start times. The others: Oct. 25 at Buffalo, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at Minnesota, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 vs. Devils at St. Pete Times Forum, 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at Rangers, 7: 30 p.m. Feb. 14 vs. Senators at St. Pete Times Forum, 7 p.m. St. Petersburg Times LOADED: 08.17.2011 576582 Toronto Maple Leafs His dad calls him “humble, reserved, introspective and very competitive.” “Jeff never said he wanted to be a hockey player,” Andy Skinner said. “He was always a good student. We put emphasis on education and arranged Skinner figures to be NHL star for a long time summer courses for him. He graduated high school with his peers and is taking on-line university courses.” Lois Kalchman Jeff remembers as a kid, “it was all about fun.” “My parents were huge in my life ... my biggest fans,” he said. “They’ve done so much for me ... sacrificed everything. The biggest adjustment for As a youngster, NHL all-star and 2011 rookie of the year Jeff Skinner won a me in the NHL was living away from home. My roommate, Justin Peters, bronze medal at the Canadian junior figure skating championships. was a big help and showed me the ropes. ” Strangely, going into the NHL draft, his skating ability was considered an Skinner isn’t resting on his laurels. He spent this summer working out two issue. hours a day, six times a week, plus on-ice skills development two or three times a week and yoga while preparing for next season. The 19-year-old Toronto-born centre played most of his minor hockey in the Greater Toronto Hockey League, followed by two years with the OHL’s And Maurice is looking forward to his return. Kitchener Rangers before being drafted seventh overall last year by the Carolina Hurricanes. “It is special to come into the NHL and score 30-plus goals,” Maurice said. “It usually takes three, four or even five years to develop. Everyone down He is the third GTHL graduate to win the Calder Trophy as top rookie. Ken here has fallen in love with him. He is grounded and he looks like he’s Dryden and Steve Vickers won it in 1972 and 1973, respectively. having fun.” Skinner doesn’t forget his roots. He was one of the pros in the GTHL golf Toronto Star LOADED: 08.17.2011 tournament on Monday, kicking off a series of events celebrating its 100th anniversary. Next to his parents, the 5-foot-11, 197-pound sniper says that Rick Vaive and Billy Bowler, who both coached him as a 15-year-old with the Toronto Young Nats, as well as Kevin Donoghue and Kitchener Rangers coach Steven Spott have had an impact on his career. Genes play a definite role in Skinner’s success. Both his parents, Elisabeth and Andy Skinner, are lawyers and athletes of the year in law school. He has five siblings all blessed athletically and academically which created a competitive edge needed to thrive in a household that was involved in swimming, figure skating, power skating, gymnastics, piano lessons, dance, phonics, mini-chef sessions, as well as acting. Jeff recalls his role in the movie Death to Smoochy, starring Danny DeVito, Robin Williams and Edward Norton as “pretty cool.” “When I saw where he was ranked (47th in mid-season), I was shocked,” said Vaive, the former Maple Leaf captain. “He lit it up in Kitchener. He’s a great skater with phenomenal balance. His skating didn’t look pretty, but you could see he was a natural goal scorer.” One report said, “His skating ability and first step acceleration will need to come a long way if he is to succeed in the NHL.” While another suggested, “He’s Marian Gaborik without the elite skating ability” and a third pointed out, “Defence and skating could be a problem in the pros.” Skinner explains. “I am not the fastest skater and don’t look like I have the quicker shorter stride of a smaller player. “Figure skating has given me a unique side advantage,” he believes, recalling changing skates in the car going from figure skating to hockey. “Being on my skates that much has made me very comfortable on the ice.” Bowler calls him “an extremely bright kid.” “His drive and determination set him apart,” Bowler said. “He has insight and ability to process and utilize immediately what you have taught him. I’m around a lot of hockey players and guys like him don’t come around very often.’ Spott calls him the “purest goal scorer” he’s had in 15 years. “When people see his breakaway speed, that eliminated any (fears) of his skating ability,” Spott said. “It is his tenacity and strength on the puck. He was first in the weight room and last off the ice. No one worked harder than Jeff. ” Carolina coach Paul Maurice talks of “his balance, his ability to move around, to change directions, to get out of (difficult) places and his edge control. He does unusual things with his skates. It’s his ability to get out of the way.” Dan Cameron spotted Skinner’s potential as an 8-years-old and recruited him for the Toronto Junior Canadiens. “Jeff could spin on the ice in his hockey skates and people liked to stop and watch him,” Cameron remembered. 576583 Toronto Maple Leafs “It’s great to have management and the coaching staff behind you and I’m hoping for a great couple of years here. I want to make it worth their while.” Watching Reimer interact with the fans on Tuesday was agent Ray Petkau, Everything's riding on Leafs' Reimer 19 who has known him since he was 13. Both men have family in tiny Morweena, Man., a Mennonite farm community of 150 north of Winnipeg. By Lance Hornby , “He’s put more effort into this game than anyone I know of,” Petkau says. “He deserves everything he’s getting now.” And with that, the pressure. TORONTO - So what do the Maple Leafs have riding on James Reimer this year? Toronto Sun LOADED: 08.17.2011 We’ll begin with millions of dollars in potential playoff revenue, since most agree that wonky goaltending at the start of the season has been a chief culprit in six straight spring failures. Tales of goalie glory are becoming ancient history in this town, when Felix Potvin, Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour would bank the early points that put Toronto in the clear for post- season play in 10 of 12 years up to the NHL lockout. They won four consecutive games to start last year, but Jean-Sebastien Giguere soon succumbed to injuries and Jonas Gustavsson’s inconsistencies crept in again. Reimer played 24 of 25 games down the stretch, most of them positive results. Now he must show the gumption to play about 20 of the first 25 in October and November and 60 to 65 overall. No one expects him to keep pace with all-stars Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller in the Northeast, but he must at least answer the bell. How Reimer performs will likely impact coach Ron Wilson’s future. With no contract extension entering the season after his three playoff misses, Wilson doesn’t need another crisis in the crease. There will be demands for Wilson’s head if the Leafs stumble early and though general manager Brian Burke is not one to fire coaches in mid-season, there wouldn’t be much choice if it extends to April. Burke will want to see some return for the $5.4 million he invested in Reimer during the next three years. It’s true Reimer didn’t break the bank with this contract, making the team capologist happy, keeping expectations realistic and looking to a bigger payday down the road. But it was still a leap of faith for the Leafs, who let the veteran Giguere go rather than keep him for insurance purposes. With all that on his shoulders, it’s remarkable Reimer’s posture wasn’t stooped as he entered the Hockey Hall Of Fame’s gift shop for Tuesday’s lunchtime autograph session. Instead, he strode in looking fit and trim from a summer of intense training in Maple Ridge, B.C. A packed house of Leaf fans applauded his arrival and even visitors wearing Boston and Detroit colours kept him busy signing cards, sweaters, stuffed bears and $50 canvas portraits for 90 minutes. “I’m sure there are a lot of expectations on me and lots of things people want to see done,” Reimer said after the last handshake and photo. “Obviously, I don’t want to just make the playoffs, I want to win the Stanley Cup. Playoffs won’t be good enough, I hate to lose one game. “I have pretty high expectations of myself and I think they exceed what most people would put on me. Those are the expectations I worry about.” Reimer didn’t want last season’s unexpected run to end, agreeing to a stint with Team Canada at the world championship in May. He barely took time off to vacation with his wife before attacking off-season workouts, vowing, “I have no intention of being a one-year wonder.” Personal trainer Adam Francilia concentrated on Reimer’s core strength around his torso to make his reactions more explosive. Reimer didn’t need to get bigger around the upper body and shoulders, he wanted to be able to keep square to the puck during high traffic periods around the net. “Just getting quicker, working on a little stamina,” he said of changes to his game. “I’ve been trying to get stronger in some areas. If I’m going to be playing more games this year, I want to work on being quicker and stronger when I get tired.” Those who think the Leafs have over-hyped Reimer will be looking for signs of a sophomore jinx or the mental fatigue of a full NHL season. Complacency is another potential pitfall for a young man who strikes it rich quick. “I hope it doesn’t change much for me,” Reimer said. “I want to go into camp with the mindset that it’s anyone’s position, anyone’s game. “The money is more than I ever imagined (but) I want to go in and earn it, not expect things to be given to me. 576584 Toronto Maple Leafs Hanging a nickname on Reimer 8 By Lance Hornby , TORONTO - Whether it’s Cat, Cujo or Eagle, you’re just not a bona fide Maple Leaf netminder without a catchy nickname. Fans weren’t too excited about Andrew (Razor) Raycroft and some names they hung on Vesa Toskala can’t be printed. But here comes James Reimer, whose strong start in his rookie year has inspired people to think outside the box. The first few kids in line at Tuesday’s Hockey Hall of Fame autograph session had the Optimus Reim t-shirt that a sharp-thinking fan re-configured from The Transformers franchise. “It was very popular,” joked Reimer’s agent, Ray Petkau. “I’ve ordered my own shirt. Reimer has at least six nicknames he’s carefully considering: Optimus Reim — In The Tranformers, Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots, from the planet Cybertron. He’s brave, powerful, wise and compassionate, charged with improving the universe around him and kicking evil Decepticon butt. Put a Habs’ or Sens’ logo on a Decepticon and you’ll get the picture. Reimer thought about using an Optimus Reim theme on his mask this year, but might stick with his current paint job. Reim Minister Of Defence — Hey, there’s never been a Manitoba-born PM. Stephen Harper won’t mind loaning the title (as long as Reimer has a good season) and it might even get kids interested in federal politics. The Statue — This gained early popularity after Reimer’s first successes. Killjoy coach Ron Wilson lectured the media about getting too excited, saying ‘around here, a guy wins a game and we’re ready to build a statue for him.’ King James — Didn’t work so well for LeBron James in Cleveland after he abdicated. But royalty is cool again after Will and Kate. If Reimer played in Los Angeles, this would be a no-brainer. JR-34 — This is the line of clothing with Reimer’s initial and jersey number, in stores this month. “It’s men’s and women’s apparel, it’s trenchcoats, shirts, fleece pullovers, lots of semi-casual,” Petkau said. “Honestly, we haven’t had a ton of time to talk about some of these things. It has been such a whirlwind of activity for him since he made it. We have so many opportunities with endorsements and products and there are some licensing things we’re working through.” Prime Time Reim — Deion Sanders has been retired long enough that Prime Time can be recycled. “My two favourites are Optimus Reim or the Reim Minister,” Reimer said. “They’re all pretty creative and it’s a lot of fun to play along with those names.” Toronto Sun LOADED: 08.17.2011 576585 Vancouver Canucks Vancouver Sun: LOADED: 08.17.2011 Canucks GM Gillis, former teammates ‘extremely shocked’ by Rick Rypien’s death By Sean Fitz-Gerald TORONTO — Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said he felt like forward Rick Rypien was “on course” in dealing with personal issues that twice prompted him to take a leave of absence from the team, and that he was happy the player had found a “safe, good place” to play, in Winnipeg. Rypien was found dead in his southern Alberta home on Monday. No cause of death has been provided, but police do not consider it suspicious. Rypien was 27 and, according to Winnipeg Jets assistant general manager Craig Heisinger, had been battling depression for a decade. Gillis did not want to address the condition directly as he met with reporters in a Toronto hotel on Tuesday, but said the Canucks sought several avenues to help Rypien, who spent parts of six seasons playing with the NHL team. Rypien signed with the Jets in July. “We relied on experts and we relied on both the NHLPA and the NHL doctors,” Gillis said. “We relied on different facilities. We relied on lots of people. There is no blueprint. I think it ebbs and flows depending on circumstances that are beyond your control, often.” Gillis declined to elaborate on the treatment. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he said. “As anybody knows, who’s dealt with these issues in the past, there’s no answer, there’s no defined course of action. If there was, we’d all be better off.” He said he first heard the news at his cottage on Monday night. Heisinger confirmed the reports. “We had spent a lot of time with Rick, and (are) just shocked,” Gillis said. “Shocked, but knew that there were issues that he was struggling to overcome.” He said he exchanged messages with Rypien a few weeks ago. “It sounded like he was in a great place,” Gillis said. “I’m just extremely shocked and disappointed.” Ex-Canucks teammate and current Calgary Flame Brendan Morrison said he wasn't aware that Rypien had been battling depression. "Initially it was just shock and disbelief that this had transpired. I'm not that close to the situation and was really unaware what Ryp had been battling the last few years. When I played with him I don't think any of the guys had an idea about it," said Morrison. " It's just a tragedy, really. It's hard to see a guy who had his whole life in front of him and have something like this occur. It's a lot of frustration, a lot of questions of how better can we maybe diagnose or help someone so this isn't the last means." Former Canuck Tanner Glass, who like Rypien signed with the Winnipeg Jets this summer, said Rypien's troubles may have been concealed by the fact that he tended to keep to himself. "He wasn't the loudest and most outgoing guy, especially in a large group setting, but when it was three or four guys having a beer after a game he was at his best. He was a really personable and great guy, pretty funny … Those are my fondest memories, just shooting the breeze after a game or on road trips sitting in our seats together." Glass said he was aware of Rypien's battle with depression. "I just wish I could have helped him. It's tough when you hear that. I wish I could have been there for him. I knew he was going through tough times, he and I didn't talk on the phone a lot, he was a man of few words, really friendly, but not the type of guy you'd pick the phone up and call and now I wish I would have. He might not have shared, but I feel like I wish I could have helped more," Glass said. "My thoughts are with his family and loved ones. I've got nothing but good things to say about the guy, he was a great friend and a great teammate. I'm sad to see him go." With files from Ian Walker, Vancouver Sun 576586 Vancouver Canucks “Everyone in the league saw him as this stone-faced killer, but on the inside he was just the nicest guy who cared about you on and off the ice,” said Lamb, recalling one particular life lesson he'll never soon forget. Bling not the thing for Rick Rypien, say former junior hockey colleagues “My dad had bought me a Pathfinder to drive out there, it was a standard, and Rick owned a big green truck that was also stick, so he told me he'd teach me to drive it. We were stopped on this hill waiting for the light and By Ian Walker, without me knowing he slid it into neutral and when I set to take off we rolled down the hill, almost smashing into a car behind us. He was laughing his head off and said, 'always look at the stick to make sure you're in gear before taking your foot off the brake.' It's something I still do to this day.” VANCOUVER — It was late December 2004 and the Regina Pats had just returned from the Western Hockey League-imposed holiday break. Players Maybe the best example of the person Rypien was came a few months were sitting around the dressing room sharing with each other the most after he was given his new boxing shoes. With the Pats well out of the cherished gift they received under the Christmas tree that year when it got playoff race, and with other team's looking to bolster their lineup for post- to be their captain's turn. While his teammates had boasted about luxury season success, the 20-year-old was given the option of being moved at items such as laptops, video game systems and mobile phones, Rick the trade deadline. But Rypien would have none of it, telling Parker he Rypien's best present was a pair of boxing shoes. wanted to finish his junior career a Pat and that part of his legacy would be to show the younger guys how to work and compete, to stand up for them “It just reflects back to his humbleness and sense of appreciation for and give them an opportunity for future success. everything he got,” said Regina Pats head coach Curtis Hunt, now in his second stint with the club. “It wasn't about the bling, it was about whatever “I just feel so bad for his family right now and as he's grown and matured helped him become a better player and help get him to where he wanted to the close group of friends that he has created since leaving Regina,” said go.” Hunt. “Brent had a quote from the organization that I echo, Rick was everything you wanted in a player, a leader and a person. He's going to be Rypien was found dead in his Alberta home on Monday afternoon. No missed.” cause of death has been provided, but police do not consider it suspicious. Vancouver Sun: LOADED: 08.17.2011 It didn't take long for word to spread, rocking the entire hockey community, but maybe nowhere more so than the Saskatchewan capital, where the 27- year-old bled red, white and blue for three years. The Pats were one of the youngest teams in the league at the time, and night-in and night-out the 5- 11, 190-pounder took on all-comers, some of them as much as seven inches taller and 60 pounds heavier. “He had to answer the bell every night to the other team's toughest guy and a majority of the time he'd come out on top,” said then-Pats director of scouting Todd Ripplinger, now the director of development for the Vancouver Giants. “For a while no one would even come after him, he had that kind of reputation. Pound-for-pound he was one of the toughest guys who played for the Pats and his teammates and the fans here loved him for it. They still do.” It's no secret Rypien had battled personal demons over his professional career. Twice in the past three years he took leaves from the Vancouver Canucks, his most recent departure from the club limiting him to just nine games last season. Still, it came as a surprise to many within the Pats organization when it was revealed on Tuesday that Rypien had fought depression for the past 10 years, dating back to his time in Regina. The time frame coincides with an incident that has left then-general manager and current team president Brent Parker questioning himself. Rypien's girlfriend died in a car accident coming to see him play during his second year. "You could tell he was hurting after that but he was just very stoic — he just kept so much to himself," said Parker. "I don't want to say he was guarded, but he was very private, almost shy. But he seemed to deal with it as well as anyone could. You know it was certainly something I thoug ht of when I heard the news [Monday] and knowing what he went through the last while. "You start wondering was that a trigger point? Was there something we should have done more at that time or did we miss something? Did we miss some signs? You just question all aspects of it." Craig Schira was surfing the Internet when he came across Rypien's picture accompanied by headline announcing the death of his former teammate. The Ottawa Senators prospect had to take a second to gather himself before clicking the link. "For me he was so special because here I was this 16-year-old rookie and he was this guy who would take on the world for his teammates," said Schira, a former Giant who played one season with Rypien. “I remember struggling with my confidence at the start of the season and after one game in particular when I played well, he was the first one to come congratulate me. It just meant everything." Kyle Lamb spent parts of two seasons with the Pats, rooming with Rypien on the road in his second year, and puts the Coleman, Alta., native up there with some of the best teammates he's ever played alongside. 576587 Vancouver Canucks Shane Pauls and Sue Spalding, who are teachers in Terrace, felt they had to come by because of their love of the team and because their profession makes them sensitive to problems of mental illness. ‘Forever a Canuck #37’: Fans mourn Rick Rypien’s death Pauls pointed to a sign behind him that read “care respect listen feel relate.” To him, that's what life is all about. By Yvonne Zacharias He had little doubt that NHL players go through a lot of stress. “They are just phenomenal athletes, to play those many games.” Her eyes brimming with tears, Spalding said her sister and brother in VANCOUVER — In a shadowy spot under the SkyTrain line with the roar of Vancouver follow the team much more closely than she does although she trains overhead, Gordie McKee pulled up on his motorcycle, then paused is a fan. for a moment to view the growing memorial to former Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien outside Rogers Arena. Her sister had wanted to make a sign for a Canucks game reading “Rippin' with Rypien.” Slowly, silently, he got off his bike, walked up to the makeshift shrine in honour of the 27-year-old hockey player and added his contribution, a “She is sorry she didn't make that sign because she really cared so deeply Canucks flag on which he had written Rypien's name. for him as we all do.” He was among the fans who arrived Tuesday morning shortly after hearing She added, “It's tragic because he is so young. My heart breaks for his the shocking news that Rypien had died a sudden, but not suspicious death family.” in his home in Coleman, Alta. Some appeared shell-shocked; some were in The police have not released Rypien's precise cause of death. For Joe tears. Cooper from Vancouver, it's irrelevant. “It doesn't matter how he died. It just “Rick Rypien was my favourite player,” said McKee, who has been a comes down to the fact that he is not with us anymore. We're without a season's ticket holder for about 10 years. “He was an awesome scrapper. great player now.” He gave it 110 per cent, stuck up for his teammates, fought the biggest Cooper said he could feel the sombre atmosphere surrounding the place. “It guys in the league and pretty much won over most of them.” just hits you. Life is really short and somebody like that who is really He heard the news of Rypien's sudden death Monday evening from his impactful on the ice and in the community … when somebody's life ends, it daughter in Montreal. Rypien was her favourite player, too. Like most really affects your life and how you go around.” people, McKee said he was shocked and surprised by the news. Vancouver Sun: LOADED: 08.17.2011 Like others who gathered outside Rogers Arena, McKee addressed the issue of Rypien's well-known struggles with mental illness. “I know he was having problems,” said McKee. “This town is full of mentally ill people but when it comes to a sports figure like him, it's rarely talked about and it's really sad.” Like others here, McKee said he hoped some good would come from Rypien's death, that it would help to change the way people regard mental illness. Visitors took time from their holiday schedules to come to the spot to pay respects to the slight, intense player who appeared ready to grapple with opponents much larger than himself, but who perhaps in the end, couldn't conquer his biggest enemy, the demon lurking within. For several sombre moments, Calvin Ng, 22, from Port Moody, cut a lone figure, lugubriously waving a Canucks flag next to the memorial. He had come down the night before after hearing the news only to find a group of girls had beat him to the spot and had started putting up signs that poured out love for a player who was gone too soon. Ng had joined them, adding candles and a small framed picture of Rypien. “Any time the team wanted some energy, the team wanted a spark, he was always the one to inject that energy into a game,” said Ng. “Every time Rypien played, one of the big storylines of the night would be who Rypien would fight. It didn't matter if the guy was his size or bigger than him. Every time he was on the ice, everyone was just waiting for him to drop the gloves.” Hockey fans were waiting for Rypien to return to the team or to make his debut with the fledging Winnipeg Jets with whom he had signed a $700,000 one-year contract in July. As a fellow Albertan to Rypien, Jaime Clague, 26, and his friend, Pam Toth, felt they had to come to the site and write on the growing wall of messages which bore words like “Forever a Canuck #37” and “Rick 'Ripper' Rypien You're on God's team now.” “It's pretty sad to see him go,” said Clague. “For a while, it was even sad to see him go to Winnipeg. Rypien stood up for the whole team all the time. I thought he was the toughest Canuck in the game.” For Clague, it was always difficult to hear that the on-ice warrior had no easy time of it off the ice as well. “He was a battler so I am sure he battled through most of it.” 576588 Vancouver Canucks Heisinger said the Jets might honor Rypien this season. "Rick was a very private guy, but being at the rink and playing hockey was where he was truly happy," Heisinger said, his voice wavering. Rick Rypien 'seemed to be in a good place,' but had battled depression for a decade Vancouver Sun: LOADED: 08.17.2011 By Rod Nickel, ReutersAugust 16, 2011 WINNIPEG — Former Vancouver Canuck Rick Rypien, who was found dead Monday at his Alberta home, had been dealing with depression for about a decade, his new team in Winnipeg said Tuesday, though they had not seen trouble brewing for him. Police have said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Rypien's death, which they described as sudden. "Certainly there were no drug and alcohol issues. Depression is the one word that has been used and that's accurate," Winnipeg Jets assistant general manager Craig Heisinger told reporters at a news conference. Heisinger said it would be up to Rypien's family to confirm whether or not the hockey player had taken his own life. Rypien signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Jets as a free agent last month after six seasons as a forward with the Canucks. "He seemed to be really excited to be (coming) back here. I think there was a comfort zone here for him," Heisinger said. "Did we see any signs? No we didn't ... Either something happened very quickly or we all missed the boat." The Canucks had granted Rypien an indefinite leave of absence last November, the second time in three years he had left the team to deal with undisclosed personal matters. Rypien also received a six-game suspension from the NHL last season after an altercation with a fan on his way to the dressing room in Minnesota. The 27-year-old Rypien was the second young National Hockey League player found dead at home in recent months. New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard, 28, died in May with a mixture of alcohol and (pain killer) oxycodone in his system in what was ruled an accidental death by a U.S. medical examiner. Rypien had begun his professional career in Winnipeg with the Moose, the Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate, and the Jets gave him a chance to re-establish his career. The small but feisty Rypien scored a total of nine goals and seven assists in 119 career NHL games, but the aggressive forward was not afraid to drop his gloves and take on much larger opponents on the ice, logging 226 penalty minutes. He was supposed to fly to Winnipeg on Sunday for an MRI test on his knee and left a message for Heisinger that morning checking on ice availability. "I never got to him," Heisinger said. When he failed to turn up, Heisinger said he tried to track the forward down before Rypien's grandmother later confirmed the death. Former teammate and roommate Mike Keane told the Winnipeg Free Press that Rypien had appeared to find some peace. "He seemed to be in a good place. We chatted off and on this summer and he was happy with the way things were going and the way he was feeling," said Keane. "I don't know what to say. It's a shock. His demons were stronger than anyone knew." Heisinger said he still believes Rypien had made strides dealing with his depression and that he had cautioned his scouts before signing Rypien because of his "baggage". "Did I think it was 100 per cent safe? No, because it's Rick and there's always some issues with Rick," Heisinger added. "Rick spoke about, once he had the situation under control, about trying to speak out and help other people. At the end of the day, I hope something comes out of this." 576589 Vancouver Canucks Gallagher: Rypien never easy to read By Tony Gallagher, In this business, you get to know hockey players mostly through dressing- room conversations nowadays, and as such, that's the way I knew Rick Rypien. Virtually any conversation one had with him gave you some idea of the struggles he went through in life, particularly when you linked any such discussions together. He was so very different from most professional athletes that at times you genuinely wondered whether he even remotely liked playing hockey. And yet, at other times he seemed very happy, particularly when surrounded by teammates that obviously cared for him very much even if they couldn't seem to help him nearly as much as they would have liked. The first time your agent met him was after his very first home triumph, which included a fight and a couple of big hits which led to a big Canuck victory on a team that was just beginning to become a good one, a sense that has basically encouraged every player in the room since it began. Strangely, Rypien was hiding in the corner of the old dressing room on the forwards' side next to the blackboard, quiet and down and not willing to look anyone in the eye. His face wanted to drop to the floor and it frequently did during the conversation, and at the time you just thought he was shy or had received some bad news off the ice perhaps. Not what you'd normally see after a game situation, particularly after a young player had just made a significant contribution to his team for the first time. Fast forward to the beginning of training camp last season, and a sit-down chat I had with him as he looked ahead to this campaign which has just passed. He was absolutely a different person. He seemed very happy, very enthused about his life and his manner was absolutely mature in every way. He looked you straight in the eye, had lots to say including some very clear and excellent insight into his future given his skill set, and even though we all knew he had his issues, it looked like they might be behind him. Whatever medication they had cooked up to control his depression or bipolar difficulties was absolutely perfect; not too high so as to seem induced, but bang on. And thinking back as a father of young men virtually the same age, I remember being happy myself that he finally knew some happiness and peace in his life if even just for a while. For before and after these times, there were reports of the poor fellow wandering around town by himself not knowing anyone who knew him, his world of loneliness something that would break the heart of any parent. So when people talk about thoughts and prayers going out to the Rypien family, you really must say those prayers because they're going to need some help. Anyone thinking about this for one moment will know that. Throughout his stints away from the Canucks when he was getting treatment, there would be frequent rumors about him being involved with drugs, which at the time at least was absolutely not the case. Both general manager Mike Gillis and his right-hand man Laurence Gilman were upset with those reports, Gillis saying in an off-the-record conversation at the time that Rick's problems weren't street drugs, but rather that like so many young people today who have been told to 'say no to drugs,' he wasn't comfortable taking the meds that had been prescribed. Whatever ultimately caused this young man's death, those involved - including the family - should know that this wonderful guy did know some happiness in his life which ended not because they didn't do enough, but because the fellow upstairs decided to end his struggles down here and call him back. He had access to the best help that can be provided for his condition and yet still we are beset by this sadness. But not Rick Rypien. His sadness is at an end, and our prayers should be such that he finds a place filled with eternal happiness. Vancouver Province: LOADED: 08.17.2011 576590 Vancouver Canucks 'Little' Rypien was a Regina fan favourite because of his huge heart By Gordon McIntyre, One of the first things Rick Rypien did as a Regina Pat, Canucks fans will not be surprised to learn, was take on Moose Jaw Warrior Lane Manson. Manson was on his way to becoming a 6-foot-9, 250-pounder; Rypien was 5-foot-10 and weighed 150 pounds soaking wet. “I thought, 'Oh my god Rick, you're going to get pulverized,'” Peter Engelhart, Rypien's billet for three years in Regina, recalled on Tuesday. “But Rick wiped up the ice with this guy.” Rypien was a fan favourite in Regina for the same reasons he was in Winnipeg and Vancouver – the little guy with things stacked against him, taking on seemingly insurmountable odds. He became, Pats president Brent Parker said, one of the two best captains the junior club has had in Parker's long association with the team, along with Barrett Jackman. When Rypien was on his personal leave last season, he'd text Parker to thank him for all Parker had done for him. “That was just him,” Parker said. “He should have been thinking about himself, but with Rick it was always about everybody else.” Those in Regina who'd kept in touch with Rypien all believed he was excited to be returning to Winnipeg, where Moose general manager Craig Heisinger had given Rypien the same chance the Pats had, a chance to prove himself. He was going to wear his old No. 11 again, he seemed anxious to put on a Jets sweater. “He loved Vancouver and a couple of other teams made offers, but he said he couldn't pass up on going back to Winnipeg after they gave him his first crack,” Parker said. “He was excited for a new beginning.” Engelhart, a retired Regina policeman who now runs a screen-printing business, occasionally goes fishing with Rypien's stepdad Wayne, his wife and Rypien's mom occasionally get together. The Engelhart boys were in the their teens when Rypien lived in the home and are taking the player's death particularly hard. “Overall, Rick wanted to please everybody, help everybody out in any way he could,” Engelhart said. “This came as a shock. Did I have any idea it was coming? Not at all. “At times people asked me 'What's up with Ryp? What's up with Ryp? I couldn't tell. “We'd talked and discuss a lot of things, but we never talked about that. If he'd wanted me to know, he'd have told me.” One thing did happen during Rypien's time in Regina – the day before the Pats were to visit the Calgary Hitmen, Rypien's girlfriend died in a car accident on her way to school in Calgary. “There was a bit of a change right after that, but what 18-year-old wouldn't go through a change after something like that happened,” Engelhart said. “That was tough on Rick.” Those who knew him in Regina say Rypien's priorities were family, hockey, friends. When something was weighing on his mind, Engelhart said, Rypien didn't want to burden anybody else with it. “Coach Bob Lowes described Rick this way: Any dad would like his daughter to bring Rick home. That's perfect, that summed up Rick. “I haven't still quite grasped what has happened. At the funeral it will probably sink in.” Vancouver Province: LOADED: 08.17.2011 576591 Vancouver Canucks Vancouver Province: LOADED: 08.17.2011 ‘I wish I could have been there for him’ By JIM JAMIESON, Tanner Glass was as shocked as anyone to hear late Monday that his former Canucks teammate Rick Rypien had passed away suddenly at his home in Coleman, Alta., earlier in the day. “It’s too bad,” said Glass, who played on the Canucks’ fourth line with Rypien for parts of two seasons. “Rick’s problems have been well documented. It’s just tough to see him go. As a friend you wish you could have been there for him in a time of need. It’s tough news.” Rypien, 27, was found at his home at 12:30 p.m. RCMP called the death sudden and non-suspicious. Rypien battled depression and was given personal leaves by the Canucks twice in the last three seasons, including a nearly four-month absence last season. Glass, who was looking forward to teaming up with Rypien again this season after both signed as free agents with the Winnipeg Jets, admitted that the small but ferocious scrapper was nearly as enigmatic to teammates as he was to reporters covering the NHL team. “He was kind of a tough nut to crack, but once you got in there…” said Glass. “Rick and I had a lot in common. He played in Regina, I’m from just outside of Regina. We played similar roles and were around the same age. He and I were good friends. With Hordi (Darcy Hordichuk) and Rip and I we kind of all shared the load that year (2009-10) in the physical department. We had a lot of fun together. “He was kind of a man of few words, but once you got to know him he was just a great guy. If you sit down and have a beer, he’s not going to be the loudest guy in a group of people but once you get two-three-four guys around a table, that’s when you see his true colours come out. He’s funny and he had a heart. It’s sad now to talk about him.” Glass said he hadn’t seen Rypien in person since he was given his leave from the team on Nov. 25. “I tried to text him but he was out of communication for a while,” Glass said. “But I texted with him at Christmas and New Years last year and a little bit during the playoffs and a little bit when we both signed around July 1. I just congratulated him on signing in Winnipeg, looking forward to playing with you again. He kind of kept to himself so I didn’t think anything of it when I hadn’t spoken to him in a while.” Rypien was immensely popular with fans and teammates for his willingness to play the enforcer role. He was more compelling because – at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds – he often took on much bigger opponents. “He was always the first one to step up if he thought an injustice was being done,” said Glass. “A lot of times, the coaches had to tell him to cool it. He was always eager to get out there if he wasn’t playing very much. He wanted to make an impact every night. He loved the challenge of fighting guys bigger than him.” But Glass also acknowledged that with the enforcer’s role comes a lot of pressure. “Definitely, especially when you’re an under-sized guy like Rick was,” said Glass. “He liked fighting those big guys, but that comes with a lot of pressure. The fans did love him and I think he kind of felt like he had to do that. To have to each night go into a game knowing who your fight might be that night, it carries some weight.” Glass said he was encouraged when he watched the video of Rypien’s press conference in March when he returned to hockey to play for the Canucks farm club in Winnipeg. Rypien said he felt like he was finally dealing with the personal issues that have plagued him for years. Like all of us, Glass hoped it was true. “I saw him at that press conference and I thought he looked great,” said Glass. “There was a sparkle in his eye, he was excited to play the game he loved again. It (his death) was really surprising and tough to take.” 576592 Vancouver Canucks Rick Rypien was one of her boys By Jonathan McDonald, Rick Rypien was 5-foot-11, 180 pounds. Hal Gill was 6-foot-7, 240 pounds. A punch-up mismatch if there ever was one. And that's why Ellen Ransford loved Rick Rypien. That's why she has a photo of the Rypien-Gill fight, which happened during a Canucks- Canadiens game in 2009, on the wall of her home. "He was punching up, because he was small," says Ransford, a Canucks fan from Richmond. "He didn't back down from anybody." Rypien's sudden death Monday stunned Canucks fans, considering the 27- year-old tough guy had spent six years with the organization. No one was stunned more than Ransford, who's enveloped her entire life in all things Canucks. That's why Ransford encouraged her 17-year-old daughter Alex to set up a "celebration of life" for Rypien Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Roger Neilson's statue outside Rogers Arena. Alex and Ellen will bring books of condolence, which she hopes the Canucks will give to Rypien's family. "I was so happy for him," Ransford says of Rypien, who signed during the offseason with the Winnipeg Jets after a troubled final season with the Canucks. "He was getting a fresh start." Rypien was suspended for six games last October after he attacked a fan in the stands at the Xcel Energy Center during a game between the visiting Canucks and Minnesota Wild. Then, in late November, the Canucks granted Rypien an extended personal leave. He returned to pro hockey in March, playing his final games with the AHL Manitoba Moose. When Rypien first showed up to Winnipeg, he spoke about his four-month absence and was surprisingly candid for a player who'd normally been tight- lipped. "It's a personal matter, a rare issue," Rypien said, without disclosing exactly why he'd been gone. "Even though it's taken me away from hockey and the game I love, doing the work I've done the last couple of months I've made a lot of gains as a person." Ransford has invested a lot of time and effort as a Canucks fan. She and Alex were regular visitors to Canucks practices during last spring's playoff run, and went to the airport to greet the team. The Canucks, she says, have helped make her relationship with her daughter closer. Ransford acknowledges that she didn't know Rypien. And isn't quite positive why she's so upset. "I'm still trying to figure that out," said Ransford. "We see the Canucks as a family. I call them my boys. "He was one of my boys." Vancouver Province: LOADED: 08.17.2011 576593 Vancouver Canucks Rick Rypien, former Canucks forward, dead at 27 By Jim Jamieson Former Vancouver Canuck Rick Rypien has been found dead in his Coleman, Alta., home, according to the RCMP Rypien’s agent Allain Roy said Monday evening before his client’s death had been comfirmed that he was surprised at the spread of the then- rumored event on Twitter. Roy said he’d spoken with Rypien on the weekend and that all seemed well. “He was fine,” said Roy. “He was excited about going to Winnipeg and getting ready for training camp.” Rypien, 27, was a paradox: a fearsome fighter, but someone whose personal demons could take him away from the game he loved to play. He took personal leaves from the Canucks twice in the last three seasons, the most recent for nearly four months last season. The Coleman native returned to the team’s farm club in Winnipeg near the end of the season. Rypien wasn’t offered a new contract with Vancouver, but was signed as a free agent to a one-year, $700,000 deal by Winnipeg – which had just returned to the NHL after the Atlanta franchise was moved to the Manitoba capital. Rypien began his minor-pro career in Winnipeg and was hugely popular there. Rypien is the second NHL enforcer to pass away at a young age in the last three months. Derek Boogaard, 28, was found dead in his apartment in Minneapolis on May 13, the victim of an overdose of painkiller oxycodone and alcohol that the medical examiner ruled as accidental. Rypien clearly fought some personal issues, but when he returned from his four-month leave of absence last March he stressed to reporters in Winnipeg that substance abuse was not involved. It’s believed he struggled with depression and other emotional issues and at the March press conference an unusually candid Rypien said he felt like he had finally come to the point in his life where he could reach out for help. "I missed a lot of hockey, but certain things needed to be dealt with," said Rypien. "I've got a totally different mindset now and I'm very excited. I'm more excited about playing hockey than I've ever been in my life." Early last season, before taking his leave, Rypien was involved in an incident with a fan in Minnesota on Oct. 19. Rypien was suspended for six games and the Canucks were fined $25,000. Rypien began his professional hockey career with the Manitoba Moose late in the 2004-05 season. He was signed to an NHL contract the next season by Vancouver and quickly showed he was one of the toughest players, pound for pound, in the league. But, at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Rypien was under-sized for the role and suffered through a string of injuries in a 119-game NHL career that spanned six seasons and produced nine goals, 16 points and 226 penalty minutes. Condolences poured out from the hockey community on Twitter as the news of Rypien’s death broke on Monday night. Bill Sweatt, who played with Rypien briefly on the Moose this season, wrote via Twitter: "Tragic story. #rickrypien found dead. This is just terrible. RIP rick. You were a great teammate and friend." Vancouver Province: LOADED: 08.17.2011 576594 Vancouver Canucks To be fair to GM Mike Gillis, it’s hard for a team to stockpile young talent when it keeps finishing high in the standings and drafting late. Still, Gillis has to be concerned about the future when the only player on an entry-level Kurtenthoughts: Canucks Fans Are Pretty Much Despised contract (read: cheap) that’s looked like he belongs in the NHL is defenceman Chris Tanev. The big worry is up front. Vancouver has four forwards – Henrik Sedin, Orland Kurten Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Jannik Hansen – signed past the 2012-13 season. There will be plenty of job openings soon. But who will step up and fill them? —-The reputation of Canucks fans took yet another hit last week when the Vancouver Province: LOADED: 08.17.2011 Vancouver Courier reported that Milan Lucic’s visit home with the Stanley Cup would be kept “relatively private and low-key” to avoid any ugly incidents involving bitter Vancouverites. The original plan, we assume, was to parade the Cup down Robson Street in a convertible while chugging champagne out of the bottle and giving everyone the finger. According to the Courier, posters of Lucic in his Bruins colours had already been defaced outside a local community centre, so clearly trouble was brewing. Because kids never scribble on posters. It was also reported that fights had broken out around Lucic when he showed up to the annual Vancouver Greek Summerfest in late June, though specific details weren’t included. The story, of course, went viral across Canada and the United States, heaping more embarrassment and abuse on a fanbase that’s suffered more than its share of late. The way things are going, Canucks fans might need to hire one of those PR firms that specialize in putting a positive spin on stuff like the tar sands (energy security!) and tobacco companies (thousands of jobs!). Ad agencies could create a series of TV commercials showing babies wearing tiny Canucks jerseys and old people talking about their 40 years of supporting the team through thick and thin. Splash the words “These are the faces of true Canucks fans” over top, throw in some sappy music, and voila, nobody hates us anymore. Or they could just show what actually happened when the Cup came out in public on Sunday. According to NHL.com, part of Lucic’s busy day included a harbour cruise with family and friends. “From the aft to the bow to the top deck of the boat, Lucic held the Cup over his head. Smaller boats cruised up to the side and honked their horns. The people at the Granville Island Public Market applauded and cheered as Lucic’s boat cruised by.” And not one single cannon was fired at the vessel. Said Lucic’s girlfriend, Brittany Carnegie, “He loves Vancouver and the fans, to be honest. I know people have said they were a little rough and tough, but they’ve been absolutely amazing. He gets pats on the back every day. The fans here have been absolutely amazing.” It’s almost like 99 percent of Canucks fans aren’t idiots. Perhaps the first clue was when Lucic raised the Cup over his head at Rogers Arena and received a standing ovation. They weren’t booing; they were saying, “Looooooooch.” True, this occurred at approximately the same time a pack of hyenas in Canucks paraphernalia was tearing apart a Smart car on Georgia Street. Not our city’s finest moment. The Canuck fanbase, fuelled by certain prominent members of the local media, also has a longstanding reputation for whining. Most of the time it’s about the officiating. “Gary Bettman wants the Bruins to win!” Other times it’s the lack of respect from the eastern media. “They all hate the Canucks!” Safe to say the “everyone’s out to get us” routine doesn’t create much sympathy in other NHL markets. Nor does the team’s reputation for diving and flopping. Whether those reputations are deserved or overblown makes no difference whatsoever. Perception isn’t always reality, and the perception out there isn’t positive for Canucks fans. —- Veteran NHL scout Grant Sonier, writing for ESPN, ranks the Canucks 29th out of the 30 NHL clubs when it comes to prospects. Only San Jose ranks worse, according to Sonier. 576595 Vancouver Canucks Rick Rypien: a Canucks enigma Staff Section: The White Towel The first time we wrote about Rick Rypien, he was a Regina Pat and he was causing all kinds of trouble. During one 2004 winter night at the Pacific Coliseum, Rypien sucker- punched then-Vancouver Giant Gilbert Brule. Perhaps there was something about Brule; after all, it was the second time it had happened to him that game. A few months later, Rypien was with the Manitoba Moose. During a playoff series against the Chicago Wolves, Rypien slammed Wolves defenceman Jay Bouwmeester from behind. Tony Gallagher, who’d never written about Rypien, referred to him as a “hamburger forward.” And a few months after that, Rypien made his Canucks debut, even scoring in his first NHL game. Said teammate Kevin Bieksa, who’d played with the undrafted Rypien in Manitoba: “A hard worker and his game is buzzing all over, making hits and playing tough. He might look pretty young, but he just crushes guys and plays fearless.” “He skates, he hits and he can fight,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said the following year. “He loves to fight.” Rypien, who died Monday at age 27, was hard to figure out. Tough on the ice, a hard worker and by all accounts a good teammate, he also missed practices, was often a liability during games and, early last season, was suspended for six games after he attacked a fan in the stands in Minnesota. Who knows what happened last Nov. 25, when the club put Rypien on an indefinite personal leave. The Canucks didn’t give a reason. But interestingly enough, around the time the club started practising without Rypien, The Province heard from a Vancouverite who claimed to have been in a minor fender-bender with Rypien in Yaletown the night before. Rypien had identified himself. The damage was inconsequential. The drivers went their separate ways. Rypien never again played for the Canucks. Vancouver Province: LOADED: 08.17.2011 576596 Washington Capitals Capitals to host alumni game Sept. 23 By Lindsay Applebaum The Washington Capitals announced that they will host an alumni game featuring several former stars, including Mike Gartner and Peter Bondra, at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, but fans who want to attend must also purchase Caps Convention tickets ($27.50 for children, $33-49.50 for adults). More info from the team news release: The game will feature “Team Langway” facing off against “Team Laughlin.” Participating alumni are scheduled to include, Hall of Famer Mike Gartner, former All-Stars Peter Bondra, Don Beaupre and Dennis Maruk as well as former Caps Calle Johansson, Greg Adams, Alan May, Mark Lofthouse, Yvon Labre, Gord Lane, Jason Woolley, John Druce, Sylvain Cote, Paul Mulvey, Alan Hangsleben, Nelson Burton, Errol Rausse, Gary Rissling, and Ken Sabourin. Recently retired NHL referee Bill McCreary will officiate the game. McCreary began his 25-year NHL officiating career on Nov. 3, 1984 at the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland and picked the Verizon Center to referee his final NHL game on April 2, 2011. Tickets are $10 with all proceeds benefiting Capitals Charities. You must be a Caps Convention ticket holder to purchase Capitals Alumni Game tickets. Tickets go on sale Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. and are limited and sold on a first- come, first-served basis. A convention ticket does not guarantee an alumni game ticket. To purchase tickets, please visit WashingtonCaps.com. Several of the participants also played in the Capitals-Penguins alumni game at Heinz Field on Dec. 31. A look back at that in-cred-ibly entertaining event: Washington Post LOADED: 08.17.2011 576597 Washington Capitals Not typical minor league towns Kevin Dunleavy Washington D.C. may not be ranked among the top sports towns, but two of its franchises can boast great minor league affiliates, located eight miles apart in central Pennsylvania. According to the Sports Business Journal, Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. is the best minor league area in the nation, beating out No. 2 San Bernardino (Calif.), No. 3 Providence-Pawtucket (R.I.) and No. 4 Reading (Pa.). The Hershey Bears, affiliate of the Capitals, have long been the jewel of the American Hockey League. The Harrisburg Senators, the Nationals' Double- A team, have had an injection of buzz thanks to two of baseball's most talked about young stars, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. "It never hurts that the town of Hershey smells like chocolate. It's one of the most family friendly destinations in the country regardless of the sports teams," said Todd Sadowski, sports director at Fox 43 in Harrisburg. "When it's warm, attending a Senators game on City Island, with walking access to the state capitol, sets it apart." The SBJ noted the Bears' loyal following and the team's close ties with the Caps. New Caps radio announcer John Walton has spent the last nine years in Hershey and was surprised by the passion, especially given Hershey's proximity to NHL cities Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. "Keep in mind that Hershey was affiliated with the Flyers in the '80s and into the '90s," Walton said. "We are in Pennsylvania. But there are a lot of times you don't realize that, especially at a Bears game. If a Flyers score goes up on the board, people will boo. Sidney Crosby had his Reebok commercial that ran in our building last year. Nothing was booed more." Walton said the Bears' appeal can be attributed in part to the non-transient demographics of the region. Some Hershey fans have had season tickets for 50 years. "It's an amazing place," Walton said. "And it's hockey-driven -- 10,000 people a night, the recent string of championships (three Calder Cups since 2006), and a fan base I'd put up against some NHL fan bases in terms of how crazy they are about the sport and how knowledgeable." Washington Examiner LOADED: 08.17.2011 576598 Winnipeg Jets Rypien's troubles started in junior By: Ian Walker VANCOUVER -- It was late December 2004 and the Regina Pats had just returned from the Western Hockey League-imposed holiday break. Players were sitting around the dressing room sharing with each other the most cherished gift they received under the Christmas tree that year when it got to be their captain's turn. While his teammates had boasted about luxury items such as laptops, video game systems and mobile phones, Rick Rypien's best present was a pair of boxing shoes. "It just reflects back to his humbleness and sense of appreciation for everything he got," said Regina Pats head coach Curtis Hunt. "It wasn't about the bling, it was about whatever helped him become a better player and help get him to where he wanted to go." Rypien was found dead in his southwestern Alberta home on Monday afternoon. No cause of death has been provided, but police don't consider it suspicious. It didn't take long for word to spread, rocking the entire hockey community, but maybe nowhere more so than the Saskatchewan capital, where the 27- year-old bled red, white and blue for three years. The Pats were one of the youngest teams in the league at the time, and night in and night out the five-foot-11, 190-pounder took on all-comers, some of them as much as seven inches taller and 60 pounds heavier. "He had to answer the bell every night to the other team's toughest guy and a majority of the time he'd come out on top," said then-Pats director of scouting Todd Ripplinger, now the director of development for the Vancouver Giants. "For a while no one would even come after him, he had that kind of reputation. Pound-for-pound he was one of the toughest guys who played for the Pats and his teammates and the fans here loved him for it. They still do." It's no secret Rypien had battled personal demons over his professional career. Still, it came as a surprise to many within the Pats organization when it was revealed on Tuesday that Rypien had fought depression for the past 10 years, dating back to his time in Regina. The time-frame coincides with an incident that has left then-general manager and current team president Brent Parker questioning himself. Rypien's girlfriend died in a car accident coming to see him play during his second year. "You could tell he was hurting after that but he was just very stoic -- he just kept so much to himself," said Parker. "I don't want to say he was guarded, but he was very private, almost shy. But he seemed to deal with it as well as anyone could. You know it was certainly something I thought of when I heard the news (Monday) and knowing what he went through the last while. "You start wondering was that a trigger point? Was there something we should have done more at that time or did we miss something? Did we miss some signs?" Maybe the best example of the person Rypien was came a few months after he was given his new boxing shoes. With the Pats out of the playoff race and with other team's looking to bolster their lineup for post-season success, the 20-year-old was given the option of being moved at the trade deadline. But Rypien would have none of it, telling Parker he wanted to finish his junior career a Pat and that part of his legacy would be to show the younger guys how to work and compete. "I just feel so bad for his family right now and as he's grown and matured the close group of friends that he has created since leaving Regina," said Hunt. "Brent had a quote from the organization that I echo, Rick was everything you wanted in a player, a leader and a person. He's going to be missed." Winnipeg Free Press LOADED 08.17.2011 576599 Winnipeg Jets "That's what attracted me to Rick Rypien," Heisinger explained. "I can remember going down to the dressing room after and saying, 'Tell me more about this guy' and it went from there." Jets never saw it coming It went from there to a regular shift with the Moose and, ultimately, to the bright NHL lights with the Canucks. There he also made an immediate impact with his teammates and with the organization, who were very Ed Tait supportive during his time getting treatment for depression. "Over the course of the last three seasons, we participated in a variety of different initiatives with him and we were all really close with him," Canucks Those in the know -- the select few in his inner circle and the men that GM Gillis told The Canadian Press Tuesday in Toronto. "We had an suited up with and against him -- will always remember Rick Rypien as understanding of what we thought was going on and had a number of more than just a tough guy. outside agencies involved in assisting us and we felt we were on course. Oh sure, the 27-year-old could throw 'em, all right. And he would regularly "We felt he was making progress in a lot of different areas. When he signed and willingly drop his gloves to protect anyone wearing the same jersey as with Winnipeg, we were all really happy for him." his own. In Vancouver, Canucks fans had set up a small memorial outside Rogers But he had skills beyond simply the grit and toughness that was part of his Arena by pasting posters and flowers to a concrete pillar and forming DNA. He could score, he was responsible in his own end and every time he candles in the shape of Rypien's No. 37. Heisinger said the Jets would also stepped on the ice he brought that shift-disturber energy to the game that likely honour Rypien in some manner this season. often had fans inching forward in their seats. In the meantime, the Jets organization is working through the grief of the That alone made him appealing to those in the Manitoba Moose loss of a man everyone called 'Rip.' organization who first spotted him during his days with the Regina Pats, then to the Vancouver Canucks and -- after a handful of teams inquired in "This is all hard to put into words, it's been a challenging 24 hours," said free agency -- finally back to Winnipeg and the Jets this summer. Heisinger. "I'm hoping to not have to deal with this again. You learn lessons from these things. Rick always spoke about once he had this situation Still, Rypien was much more than even that. In many ways, he had become under control about trying to speak out and help other people. At the end of the epitome of everything the Jets organization represented: the against-all- the day I'm hoping something like that comes out of this. I guess I'm having odds scrapper who made it to the bigs while stepping over or through every trouble seeing how it will right now. doubter and cynic along the way. "Through all this the Canucks never questioned anything. They paid him That's why his passing -- he was found dead in his Coleman, Alta., home right through and the level of support they showed him was phenomenal. Monday afternoon -- hit the Jets like a death in the family. And from a Moose perspective he started his career here and he finished his career here. It's why as assistant GM Craig Heisinger occasionally fought back tears during a media conference Tuesday, owner Mark Chipman was spotted at "I think he gave a lot more back to us than we gave to him." the back of the room with his glasses in one hand, his head buried in the other. Winnipeg Free Press LOADED 08.17.2011 "He loved being the style of player he was, the smaller-bodied guy that fought two or three weight classes up and often came out on top," said Heisinger. "We differed on some things, on how he dealt with some things, but I would say we had a fantastic relationship." RCMP in Crowsnest Pass, Alta., called Rypien's passing a 'non-suspicious sudden death,' but his battles with depression are now well-documented. Rypien took two leaves of absences while with the Canucks for personal reasons, but after returning to the Moose in the spring -- Heisinger said he was arguably the club's best player in the playoffs -- and then signing with the Jets in July, he appeared to have defeated his demons and was refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to revive his career. But when Rypien failed to arrive in Winnipeg Sunday night for an MRI on his knee Monday morning -- and just hours after checking with Heisinger about whether there was ice available for him to skate on -- alarm bells began to clang. He was also scheduled to run his annual hockey school in Coleman this week. Heisinger said he was aware of some of the details of Rypien's death, but opted to leave their possible release to the family's discretion. "There were no drug or alcohol issues... depression is the right word," said Heisinger. "I think he had a fantastic summer, but obviously that wasn't the case. He seemed really excited to be back here. I think there was a comfort zone here for him. He had an apartment all set up and was ready to go. So the question being, did we see any signs? No, we didn't. I never got the sense that there was any problems all summer. I spoke to other people in his support group and none of us had that sense... so, either something happened very quickly or we all missed the boat. "I thought for sure he had made strides... I was happy for him because I knew how much he wanted to play here and there was a 100 per cent level of comfort for him here." Heisinger first thought of Rypien as a pro prospect during his junior days in Regina and, in particular, after the Brandon Wheat Kings had throttled the Pats in a game at the MTS Centre. The next morning Rypien was blocking shots in practice. 576600 Winnipeg Jets A TOUGH MAN AND A GOOD TEAMMATE Staff Writer Some of the reaction via Twitter from the NHL fraternity on the sudden passing of Winnipeg Jet forward Rick Rypien: -- "The National Hockey League sends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and teammates of Rick Rypien, who played the game with so much energy and emotion and whose passing fills us all with a sense of immeasurable sadness and sorrow." -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman -- "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." -- NHLPA executive director Don Fehr -- "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 -- "I will always have the memories from Vancouver with Rick... also pound for pound he was one of the toughest guys out there." -- Michael Grabner, New York Islanders -- "Sad to hear about Rick Rypien. My condolences go out to his family and friends." -- Ben Maxwell, Winnipeg Jets -- "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 -- "R.I.P. to a fellow #37 sorry to see ya go, nicest guy I played with my time in Vancouver, sorry to see ya go buddy, see ya on the other side." -- Brad Lukowich, Dallas Stars -- "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 -- 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." -- Paul Bissonnette, Phoenix Coyotes -- "R.I.P. 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 -- "This is just terrible. R.I.P. Rick. You were a great teammate and friend." - - Bill Sweatt, Manitoba Moose -- "Thoughts and prayers go out to Rick Rypien's family. Another good soldier leaving us too soon!" -- Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers -- "Sad to hear about the loss of another great guy... condolences to the friends and family of Rick Rypien. R.I.P." -- Ryan Jones, Edmonton Oilers -- "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 -- "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 #R.I.P." -- Matt Carle, Philadelphia Flyers Winnipeg Free Press LOADED 08.17.2011 576601 Winnipeg Jets "Look at Kris King, he's a vice-president with the NHL. What about Ken Baumgartner? He's an investment banker and Stu Grimson is a lawyer," said the former player. Fighting for their livelihood Stop the madness All true, but not reason enough to look past the burned out human shells so many fighters become. Some are strong enough to survive this torturous existence, but that's no reason to let it continue. Gary Lawless End it. End it now, NHL. Winnipeg Free Press LOADED 08.17.2011 Rick Rypien fought for a living and so did Derek Boogaard and today they're both dead. Boogaard died following an accidental overdose earlier this summer and Rypien was found dead in his home on Monday. To suggest fighting in hockey killed these men would be a ridiculous oversimplification. But to say it had no part in the issues that besieged both NHL tough guys would be just as off base. Bare-knuckle fighting on command in the course of a hockey game is not only barbaric and physically destructive, but can also be tragically damaging to the minds of the men who choose to engage in it. The evidence of lives ravaged by the role of enforcer in the NHL is long: Dave Semenko, Louie DeBrusk, John Kordic, Bob Probert. Now Boogaard and Rypien. All dealt with emotional troubles off the ice and all had tough guy roles on it. There's a connection. It's undeniable. The physical damage, in particular post-concussion syndrome, is more than enough reason to remove fighting from hockey. The continuing evidence of what the job psychologically does to human beings is beyond damning. Any argument for keeping fighting in the game is now without merit. The ride of demeaning, base violence is over. The NHL must act and it must do so swiftly. Newly anointed player safety czar Brendan Shanahan needs to make this his top priority. Fans who say they love hockey and its players must demand it. Fighting must go. Don Cherry's pleas to keep it in the game must be disregarded as misinformed rubbish. "It's their job and no once forced them to take the job," a reporter who covers the NHL told me on Monday night when I suggested fighting plays a role in the destruction of too many players' lives. Fine. If they can't help themselves, let's help do it for them. The detrimental effects far outweigh any anecdotal theories about keeping the game honest. Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber looked at the lot in life of a hockey fighter back in 1997. "I can look back and say fighting's pretty much given me a life, but it's also kind of destroyed my life," DeBrusk told Farber. "The fact that I am a fighter on the ice and the difficulties I've had with that job definitely brought me to drink a few times. I'd go out after a game and all I could think of was the pressure I had on me during the game. Maybe I didn't fight. There'd be the guilt that I didn't fight, the feeling of worthlessness, I guess. Then I'd go out and drink myself into oblivion and maybe I'd get into a fight later. I've been advised by people who have helped me in rehab not to go back to my job." Farber spoke to players on a number of teams and while there were some, Tie Domi among them, that enjoyed the work of punching another person in the face, overall the job provided little personal fulfilment. "We've all had that oh-I-think-my-girlfriend's-pregnant feeling, that sick-to- your-stomach feeling when you have to do something you don't want to do," said Kelly Chase. "It's like when you've had somebody in school organize a fight for you. You know that at 3:30 you've got to go out and have that fight. That's how I feel every game and probably how I've felt since junior hockey. Eventually that's what chases a lot of guys away from the game." Winnipeg Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger was unwilling to link the deaths of Boogaard and Rypien to fighting on Tuesday. "I can't answer that question because I can't speak for him. But there seems to be a developing trend there," said Heisinger. One former NHLer told me on Monday that fighting needed to be looked at, but there was evidence of lots of players who walked away from the role emotionally intact. 576602 Winnipeg Jets Player's passing stuns lifelong Canucks fan By: Jonathan McDonald VANCOUVER -- Rick Rypien was five-foot-11, 190 pounds. Hal Gill was six-foot-seven, 240 pounds. A punch-up mismatch if there ever was one. And that's why Ellen Ransford loved Rypien. That's why she has a photo of the Rypien-Gill fight, which happened during a Vancouver Canucks tilt with the Montreal Canadiens in 2009, on the wall of her home. "He was punching up, because he was small," says Ransford, a Canucks fan from Richmond, B.C. "He didn't back down from anybody." Rypien's sudden death Monday stunned Canucks fans, considering the 27- year-old tough guy had spent six years with the organization. No one was stunned more than Ransford, who's enveloped her entire life in all things Canucks. That's why Ransford encouraged her 17-year-old daughter Alex to set up a "celebration of life" for Rypien Wednesday afternoon at Roger Neilson's statue outside Rogers Arena. Alex and Ellen will bring books of condolence, which she hopes the Canucks will give to Rypien's family. "I was so happy for him," Ransford says of Rypien, who signed during the off-season with the Winnipeg Jets after a troubled final season with the Canucks. "He was getting a fresh start." Rypien was suspended for six games last October after he attacked a fan in the stands at the Xcel Energy Center during a game between the visiting Canucks and Minnesota Wild. Then, in late November, the Canucks granted Rypien an extended personal leave. He returned to pro hockey in March, playing his final games with the AHL Manitoba Moose. When Rypien first showed up to Winnipeg, he spoke about his four-month absence and was surprisingly candid for a player who'd normally been tight- lipped. "It's a personal matter, a rare issue," Rypien said, without disclosing exactly why he'd been gone. "Even though it's taken me away from hockey and the game I love, doing the work I've done the last couple of months I've made a lot of gains as a person." Ransford has invested a lot of time and effort as a Canucks fan. She and Alex were regular visitors to Canucks practices during last spring's playoff run, and went to the airport to greet the team. The Canucks, she says, have helped make her relationship with her daughter closer. Ransford acknowledges she didn't know Rypien and isn't quite positive why she's so upset. "I'm still trying to figure that out," said Ransford. "We see the Canucks as a family. I call them my boys. "He was one of my boys." Winnipeg Free Press LOADED 08.17.2011 576603 Winnipeg Jets Up close and personal with... TOBIAS ENSTROM Staff Writer The rookies will gather in Penticton, B.C., on Sept. 11 and the main camp opens Sept. 17. The Winnipeg Jets are gearing up for their return to the NHL and opening night vs. the Montreal Canadiens Oct. 9 at the MTS Centre. During the next few weeks, we will provide you with an up-close look at some of the players who are expected to be in the team's starting lineup when it hits the ice against the legendary Habs. Today we feature defenceman Tobias Enstrom. 39 TOBIAS ENSTROM DEFENCE NUMBER: 39 HEIGHT: 5-10 WEIGHT: 180 SHOOTS: LEFT BORN: Nov. 5, 1984 (AGE 26) BIRTHPLACE: NORDINGRA, SWEDEN DRAFTED: Atlanta / 2003 NHL ENTRY DRAFT (eighth round, 239th overall) ?óó Played five seasons with MoDo in Sweden before coming to the NHL and playing four seasons with the Thrashers ?óó Played for Sweden in the 2010 Olympics ?óó Has represented Sweden six times in International play ?óó Plays tennis in the off-season ?óó Top hockey memory is winning the Swedish Elite League title with MoDo ?óó Likes rap and hip hop TRANSACTIONS: Selected by the Thrashers in the eighth round, 239th overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. SEASON TEAM GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW S S% 2010-2011 THRASHERS 72 10 41 51 -10 54 6 0 0 113 8.8 NHL TOTALS 318 26 145 171 -6 178 14 1 1 413 6.3 Winnipeg Free Press LOADED 08.17.2011 576604 Winnipeg Jets Rypien will be missed: Heisinger Ed Tait Rick Rypien will be remembered as a man who was respected by his opponents and teammates. But what was further hammered home at a press conference Tuesday afternoon -- a day after the 27-year-old’s sudden passing to what RCMP are calling a ‘non-suspicious sudden death’ – was just how adored Rypien was by those in the Winnipeg Jet/Manitoba Moose organization. "He was a simple guy who had a pretty easy home life and who barely had a bank account," said Moose assistant GM Craig Heisinger during a media availability Tuesday in which he occasionally struggled to fight back tears . "He was just a simple guy with some issues to deal with. There’s a lot I’m going to miss about him." Those issues included a decade-long battle with depression that saw him take two leaves of absence during his days with the Vancouver Canucks. But after signing with the Jets as a free agent last month everyone who had spoken with Rypien this summer commented on how he seemed refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to continue to win over fans and management with his high-energy and spirited approach to every shift. But when Rypien failed to arrive in Winnipeg Sunday night for an MRI on his knee Monday morning – and just hours after checking with Heisinger about whether there was ice available for him to skate on -- then some alarm bells began to clang. He was also scheduled to run his annual hockey school in Coleman, Alberta this week but did not appear before RCMP in Crowsnest Pass confirmed his death Monday night. Heisinger said he was aware of some of the details of Rypien’s death but opted to leave the possible release of them to the family’s discretion. "There were no drug or alcohol issues... depression is the right word," said Heisinger. "I think he had a fantastic summer, but obviously that wasn’t the case. Every communication I had with him I didn’t see anything different than that. He seemed really excited to be back here. I think there was a comfort zone here for him. He had an apartment all set up and was ready to go. So the question being, did we see any signs? No, we didn’t. "I thought for sure he had made strides... I was happy for him because I knew how much he wanted to play here and there was a 100 per cent level of comfort for him here. This is all hard to put into words. It’s been a challenging 24 hours. I’m hoping to not have to deal with this again. You learn lessons from these things. Rick always spoke about once he had this situation under control about trying to speak out and help other people. At the end of the day I’m hoping something like that comes out of this. I guess I’m having trouble seeing how it will right now." First signed by the Moose in 2005 after a career with the WHL’s Regina Pats, Rypien won over doubters with his style of play. Undrafted in the NHL, he still played 119 games with the Canucks, chipping in offensively, playing responsibly in his own end and offering a level of toughness that was respected for a player a couple inches shy of six feet and well under 200 pounds. "The Canucks were really supportive of Ryp through his time, not only through injury but through the time he had to leave to deal with his issues," Heisinger said. "The Canucks never questioned anything. They paid him right through and the level of support they showed him was phenomenal. And from a Moose perspective he started his career here and he finished his career here. "I think he gave a lot more back to us than we gave to him." Winnipeg Free Press LOADED 08.17.2011 576605 Winnipeg Jets Rypien's death hits NHL hard Ed Tait 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. Winnipeg Free Press LOADED 08.17.2011 576606 Winnipeg Jets "He was a guy who wouldn't back down from anyone. He was a guy that was definitely fearless," Jaffray said. "He wasn't one of those tough guys that was just out there to fight. Former teammate: Rypien talked about bringing Stanley Cup to Winnipeg "The guy could skate 100 miles an hour and he worked extremely hard at becoming a good hockey player." Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press Canucks fans set up a small memorial outside Rogers Arena, pasting posters and flowers to a concrete pillar and arranging candles in the shape of Rypien's No. 37. WINNIPEG - After taking time away from his NHL career to battle "No matter who was your favourite player, he was one of those players depression, Rick Rypien finally appeared to be in a good place. who, any time the team wanted energy or a spark, he was always the one to inject it," said Calvin Ng, a 22-year-old from suburban Port Moody, B.C. The scrappy centre, formerly with the Vancouver Canucks, recently signed with the Winnipeg Jets along with longtime friend Jason Jaffray. He Don Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association, said appeared content and at peace and talked about the possibility of winning Rypien will be missed. the Stanley Cup. “All players and NHLPA staff are saddened to learn of Rick’s passing," he That's why news of Rypien's sudden death Monday came as a shock to said in a statement. "He was a respected member of our association and Jaffray and others who watched Rypien battle his way, physically and will be greatly missed throughout the hockey community. mentally, into the NHL. "Our sincere condolences go out to Rick’s family, friends and many fans.” "Everyone knew he had some issues that he had to get taken care of last year and he was definitely a new man when he came back and ... he was NHL commissioner Gary Bettman offered similar sentiments. definitely the happiest I'd ever seen him," Jaffray said Tuesday from his "The National Hockey League sends its deepest condolences to the family, home in Olds, Alta. "We actually had joked around about bringing a Cup friends and teammates of Rick Rypien, who played the game with so much back to Winnipeg." energy and emotion and whose passing fills us all with a sense of Rypien was scheduled to fly to Winnipeg on Sunday night to have his knee immeasurable sadness and sorrow," he said. checked Monday, Jets assistant general manager Craig Heisinger said. But Fans created a Facebook tribute page shortly after the reports of Rypien's he never boarded that flight. death surfaced. Former and current teammates posted condolences on "He had left me a message Sunday morning ... he just wanted to know Twitter. whether there was ice to skate at," Heisinger said during a news conference "R.I.P. to a fellow (No.) 37 sorry to see ya go, nicest guy I played with my Tuesday. "I spent some time trying to track him down (Monday) and was time in Vancouver, sorry to see ya go buddy, see ya on the other side," unable to do so." posted former teammate Brad Lukowich. Rypien had been dealing with depression for at least a decade, said Brendan Morrison, another former Canucks teammate, also posted a tweet. Heisinger, who was the GM of the Manitoba Moose when Rypien played for the AHL team. By the summer, Heisinger said, Rypien appeared to have "In disbelief about Ripper. Sat beside him in the locker room in Van. Such a gained the upper hand. good kid with a huge heart Thoughts with his family," Morrison said. "He seemed really excited to be back here," Heisinger said. "I think there Rypien is the second active NHL player found dead in the off-season. was a comfort zone here for him. Former New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died in May due to an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone. "Either something happened very quickly or we all missed the boat." Rypien — the cousin of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien — left the The Jets and Canucks confirmed Rypien's death in statements Monday Canucks twice over three years to deal with undisclosed personal matters. night. The RCMP in Crowsnest Pass, Alta., said they received a call Monday afternoon concerning a "sudden and non-suspicious" death. Rypien, a native of Coleman, Alta., made headlines last October when he pushed a Minnesota Wild fan after leaving the ice following a fight during a There was no immediate word on the cause of death. game in St. Paul. Rypien was handed a six-game suspension and later Rypien, 27, spent parts of six seasons with the Canucks organization. He apologized for the incident. played only nine games with Vancouver last season and spent most of the Rypien had two assists in 11 games with the Moose last season. year dealing with personal issues. — with files from James Keller in Vancouver and Greg Strong in Toronto. Jaffray, who played with Rypien in both Vancouver and Winnipeg, said Rypien did not talk much about his troubles. Winnipeg Free Press LOADED 08.17.2011 "Even being his roommate, and on the road we did pretty much everything together ... he didn't like to talk about that kind of stuff a whole lot," Jaffray said. "And guys knew not to pry because when you did try to pry, he kind of got uncomfortable." Rypien had been getting treatment, although Canucks GM Mike Gillis would not go into great detail. "Over the course of the last three seasons, we participated in a variety of different initiatives with him and we were all really close with him," Gillis said Tuesday in Toronto. "We had an understanding of what we thought was going on and had a number of outside agencies involved in assisting us and we felt we were on course. "We felt he was making progress in a lot of different areas. When he signed with Winnipeg, we were all really happy for him." Rypien had signed a one-year, US$700,000 deal with the Jets. He had nine goals, seven assists and 226 penalty minutes in 119 career games with Vancouver. Although small in stature, the five-foot-11, 190-pound Rypien never shied away from a fight. His tenacity made him a fan favourite. 576607 Winnipeg Jets Otherwise, it’s senseless. “Rick always spoke about, once he had his situation under control, about trying to speak out and help other people,” Heisinger said. “At the end of the Lessons from Rypien tragedy day, I hope something like this comes out of this. “I guess I’m having trouble trying to see how it will. But I suppose at the end By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency of the day, if Rick’s a lot happier today than he was yesterday, I’m happy for him.” That Rypien was strong enough to get help speaks to his toughness. WINNIPEG - Mental health. The very words carry a stigma. That he lost this fight speaks to the seriousness of his illness. For some reason, we don’t want to talk about illness in our brains, often brought on by chemical imbalances. We should all take note. We’re conditioned to think it’s a sign of weakness. And if you’re an athlete, Winnipeg Sun LOADED 08.17.2011 you don’t want to show weakness. If you’re a hockey player who sweats nails and carries a reputation as someone who’d take on a steamroller, even more reason to keep your demons locked inside. Rick Rypien’s got out the other day, killing him at the age of 27. And leaving everybody who came into contact with him on a regular basis wondering what they could have done to save him. Tanner Glass, his linemate in Vancouver and fellow Winnipeg Jets free agent signing, wondered it aloud over the phone from the West Coast. “One of the first things that goes through your head is, ‘What could I have done? Could I have helped him?’” Glass said. “He was such a tough guy, and wasn’t a guy to talk about his emotions and feelings. As a friend, you wish you would have tried a bit more.” Here in Winnipeg, Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger, part of Rypien’s inner support group, grappled with the tragedy as well as his own emotions in a courageous meeting with the local media. “I never got any indication there was something that was going to trigger it,” Heisinger said. “I never got the sense there were any problems all summer. I spoke to other people in his support group and none of us had that sense. And that’s a small, tight-knit group. “So either something happened very quickly, or we all missed the boat.” How about this: we all miss the boat on this one, regularly. How many of us have made a snide remark about somebody having “a few screws loose,” or seeing a “shrink.” Mental illness carries a stigma because we allow it to. We don’t understand it, so we mock it. Twice in the last three years, Rypien left the Vancouver Canucks to deal with what everybody simply called “personal issues.” Had he said he was seeking psychiatric help, you can bet he would have heard the catcalls from the stands when he returned. Next season, Rypien was planning to show us another side of himself. He’d talked to his agent about how this was going to be a breakout year, where he’d show us all he wasn’t just a fourth-liner with quick feet and rock- hard fists. More importantly, he’d come to realize he could use his struggles to help others. “The more that I go on, the more I can talk about it,” Rypien told reporters the day he returned from treatment to sign with the Manitoba Moose, in March. “Hopefully, one day I can help other hockey players that might be experiencing difficulty with whatever they’re dealing with off the ice.” Watching from Vancouver, Glass saw his old linemate on TV that day and smiled. “He looked great,” Glass said. “He had a sparkle in his eyes.” This week, he’s left tears in everybody else’s. “It’s a real challenge,” Heisinger acknowledged. “It’s hard to put into words. But you learn lessons from these things.” We’d better. 576608 Winnipeg Jets “It caught guys off guard because of his size, but after a little while, you could see guys were very hesitant to fight him. “I don’t know much about fighting, it’s not my job description, but he was Morrison recalls Rypien's respect technical and very smart. Just incredible.” Unfortunately, Rypien couldn’t punch out his demons. By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency “Because we’re in the spotlight, a lot of times guys are painted as invincible, but we have everyday issues people go through and the everyday problems of life,” Morrison said quietly. “He was a great kid. It’s shocking for a lot of CALGARY - The Images every hockey fan has of Rick Rypien are the people what happened. scraps. “Such a very unfortunate situation.” The former Vancouver Canucks forward who recently signed with the Winnipeg Jets and was found dead Monday at his home in Coleman, Alta., Winnipeg Sun LOADED 08.17.2011 had his share of tilts. And, despite his size, Rypien won more than his share of those NHL fights, too. Brendan Morrison has another image of his former Canucks stall neighbour, a quiet and respectful young man who every teammate loved playing with. “When he first got called up, he sat beside me in the locker-room for a long, long time, and was a great kid,” Morrison recalled Tuesday from his off- season home in Tofino, B.C. “He had a tremendous amount of respect for all the guys in the locker-room. He respected the game, the coaching staff, everybody. “Everybody liked him because he had a great heart and was a fantastic teammate. He’d do anything for his teammates. “It’s a tragedy.” Rypien, who was 27, battled depression for many years, Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger told media members yesterday. It’s why the gritty forward twice was given a leave of absence from the Canucks organization. Morrison, who was a teammate for parts of three season (2005-06 through 2007-08), said those issues weren’t known at that time. “When I played with him, I don’t think anybody on the team knew there was an issue or he was battling things,” Morrison said. “It was never something talked about or brought up. It was never something you even noticed with him. “The first time I heard about it was last year. “I’d be very surprised if anybody who played with him up until the last two or three years knew about it. It was something he kept close to the vest. “Talking to some guys, it seemed he was getting help and was in a good state of mind,” Morrison continued. “It’s hard to comment, because unless you’re affected by a mental issue, you don’t know what a guy is going through. “It’s so unfortunate to see a guy with his whole life in front of him have this happen to him.” Rypien skated in 119 NHL games and collected nine goals, seven assists and 226 penalty minutes. He played just nine games with the Canucks last season and was suspended for six games after shoving a fan in Minnesota following an on- ice altercation on Oct. 19. A month later, he took his second leave of absence. Rypien rejoined the Manitoba Moose late in the season and played 18 games, including playoffs. He signed a free-agent contract with the Jets July 2. The battler appeared to be on track and ready to resume his role in the NHL. “I don’t know if you can print these words, but he had elephant balls,” Morrison said. “He would fight anyone and everybody, regardless of their size. “When he got called up, we’d heard he played the game hard and was a tough kid, but nobody had any idea how he’d do. “Then we’d see him fight and be going, ‘Holy crap, what just happened?’ He would throw lefts. He’d throw rights. He’d switch up and just destroy guys. 576609 Winnipeg Jets Rypien family floored By RANDY SPORTAK CALGARY - Two weeks ago, Mark Rypien golfed with Rick Rypien in Spokane, Wash. On Tuesday, the Super Bowl XXVI MVP was like the rest of the family, trying to come to grips with the death of the NHL player. “It’s so surreal. Here one day and gone the next,” Mark Rypien said from Spokane. “He was a young man whose best years were still ahead of him. From our family’s standpoint, it’s been a sad day and a half.” Rick Rypien, who spent several years with the Vancouver Canucks organization and signed this summer with the Winnipeg Jets, was found dead Monday in his family’s home in Coleman, Alta. A source says he took his own life. He was 27. The professional athletes were cousins. Rick Rypien’s grandfather and Mark Rypien’s father were brothers, but even though they were distant relatives, and from different countries, they were close. In fact, Mark, who played hockey himself, was as big of fan of Rick’s as so many young football players admired him. Five years ago, when he was in Calgary — where he was born — for the Henry Burris All-Star Weekend for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Mark Rypien was beaming about his cousin’s rise in the hockey ranks, and how much he achieved through hard work. “He does the little things — digs the puck out, drops the mittens if he has to and kills penalties,” he said at the time. In April, the former star quarterback posted on his Twitter account: “Good luck Rypper and the Manitoba Moose as they head into the AHL playoffs.” Two weeks ago, they were on the links together. “From seeing him two weeks ago and now he’s not with us anymore, it’s really tough,” Mark said. “It’s tough to think we were on a golf course having a cold beverage laughing and giggling, and here we are putting a young kid way too young into the ground. “I’ve been there before with my own child and it’s not how the circle of life is supposed to be. You’re not supposed to put your children into the ground before yourselves. “It’s a tough day.” Mark Rypien’s son, Andrew, died of cancer when he was three years old. Rypien, whose 13-year NFL career included two Pro Bowl selections and a pair of NFL titles, returned home Tuesday after participating in charity golf tournament for victims of the April tornadoes which killed more than 300 people in the southern U.S. One of his daughters, Ambre, attended the University of Alabama. Much of Tuesday was spent trying to find out when services would be held for Rick and making arrangements to attend. “My thoughts are more with his immediate family,” Mark Rypien siad. “I ask all, hockey fan or not, Canadian or American, whatever, to think of them at this time.” As for how Mark Rypien wants to remember his cousin, he said: “I think of the wonderful, infectious smile he carried around with him.” Winnipeg Sun LOADED 08.17.2011 576610 Winnipeg Jets Vancouver fans mourn Rypien By STEPHANIE IP VANCOUVER - Wearing a Canucks shirt and hat, Joy Sodmuy held back tears as she taped a small poster to a concrete pillar outside Rogers Arena. The words, “Good Canadian kid” are written in blue and green. “He’s a real fighter. He’s just a small guy with a really big heart,” Sodmuy said of former Canucks player, Rick Rypien, found dead in his Alberta home Monday. But as fans mourned the loss of Rypien, long speculated to be dealing with mental health issues, some are calling on the league to do more for their players in light of the stressful nature of professional sports. “I’d like to see more transparency with regards to what the NHL is doing to make sure players are emotionally healthy,” said fan Kelli Leone, citing the death of former New York Ranger Derek Boogaard in May due to a mixture of alcohol and painkillers. “We hear about the people who take care of their bodies … but not the psychologist. This is a good place where they can … take the stigma off mental health.” A fan memorial is scheduled for today at the memorial site where tea lights on the ground spell out Rypien’s initials and number – 37. Markers are taped next to a poster board, a collection of fan messages already overlapping. “Thanks for standing up for the boys,” read one message. “You kept it classy, you kept it clean, you kept it pro,” said another. George Bonofas attended the site on his lunch break. “I need to be here for Rick, to honour him,” said the 18-year-old, adding the death was a shock. Rypien recently signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Winnipeg Jets, leading Bonofas to believe the player had conquered his demons. Winnipeg Sun LOADED 08.17.2011 576611 Winnipeg Jets Rypien mourned across league By PAUL FRIESEN WINNIPEG - The sudden death of forward Rick Rypien continued to send shock waves through the hockey world, Tuesday. Tributes poured in, too, as fans in Vancouver created a makeshift memorial to the former Canuck outside Rogers Arena, while flags outside the MTS Centre in Winnipeg flew at half mast. The Alberta native’s sudden death hit close to home in Winnipeg, where Rypien began and ended his pro career with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose — and where he was planning to start fresh after signing with the NHL’s Jets this summer. The 27-year-old was supposed to be here when he was found dead at his home in Coleman, Alb., early Monday afternoon. “He seemed really excited to be back here,” Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger said. “There was a comfort zone here for him. He had an apartment all set up. He was ready to go. Did we see any signs? No, I didn’t.” Heisinger, though, knew Rypien suffered from depression for the last 10 years or so, a condition that twice caused him to take leaves of absence from the Canucks, the latest causing him to miss most of last season. “I for sure thought he’d made strides,” Heisinger said. “And I still believe that.” Former Canucks teammate Tanner Glass, who also signed with the Jets this summer, certainly thought so when he saw TV coverage of Rypien returning to hockey with the Moose, late last season. “He looked great,” Glass said from Vancouver. “He had a sparkle in his eyes.” Glass heard of Rypien’s death from former Canucks teammates Aaron Rome and Cory Schneider, Monday night. “It was shocking,” he said. “One of the first things that goes through your head is, ‘What could I have done? Could I have helped him?’ ” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Association boss Don Fehr issued statements expressing their grief. In Toronto, Canucks GM Mike Gillis said he was shocked about Rypien’s death, given his apparent improvement over the last several months. “It sounded like he was in a great place,” Gillis said. “I’m just extremely shocked and disappointed.” Gillis declined to talk about the treatment the Canucks helped Rypien seek. “We relied on experts and we relied on both the NHLPA and the NHL doctors,” Gillis said. “We relied on different facilities. We relied on lots of people. There is no blueprint. I think it ebbs and flows depending on circumstances that are beyond your control, often. “As anybody knows, who’s dealt with these issues in the past, there’s no answer, there’s no defined course of action. If there was, we’d all be better off.” Winnipeg Sun LOADED 08.17.2011 576612 Websites I was so fond of Rypien because in a small way he made me into a tougher person. I’m naturally shy and it hasn’t always been easy to stand up for myself. Rypien always stood up for himself on the ice no matter what the NBCSports.com / Fans, former teammates and foes remember Rick Rypien other guy looked like. When I wear my Rypien jersey I feel tough. I stand up taller and I walk with swagger as the kids are saying these days. I can handle myself. It’s silly but it’s true. James O'Brien Alanah McGinley looks back at Rypien’s leave of absence and struggles with depression. In all honesty, I don’t know whether Rypien could have ever been a great Many people were stunned by the sad news that former Vancouver deal more than the player that he was, but I do firmly believe he was more Canucks tough guy Rick Rypien died at the age of 27. Canucks fans quickly than just some random tough guy. He voluntarily risked a promising and put together plans to mourn his death (or “celebrate his life”) at Rogers lucrative career in order to try healing his personal demons. Living in the Arena on Wednesday, while a makeshift memorial has already been public eye—not to mention within the tough-guy culture of hockey—that constructed, according to the Vancouver Sun. took a lot of guts. While this is by no means a comprehensive collection (there are simply too The NHL isn’t a business that tolerates imperfection well, largely because it many recollections and dedications out there), here are a few more articles, doesn’t have to. While it may sound cruel, there are too many players of Tweets and other items from fans, former teammates and even a few Rypien’s skill level to make anyone irreplaceable. But in spite of that, he former opponents of Rypien. Feel free to share some of your own favorite stepped away from his hockey career more than once in order to take care stories about the enforcer in the comments. of himself, and then fought his way back into the business. Literally and figuratively. Former teammates and opponents Again, these are just two of the fan reactions and a handful of player Jeff Marek did a great job of collecting some of the most notable Twitter tributes; there are a lot more out there. Hopefully this gives you a better tributes. Here are a handful of the most interesting ones. idea about who Rypien was and what he meant to fans and teammates Andrew Ladd (@aladd16): Sad to hear about Rick Rypien. I was looking alike. forward to playing with him in Winnipeg. Thoughts are with his family and NBCSports.com / LOADED: 08.17.2011 friends #RIPRypien Mike Commodore (@commie22): RIP Rick Rypie. 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. Bill Sweatt (@billysweatt): Tragic story. #rickrypien found dead. This is just terrible. RIP rick. You were a great teammate and friend. Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0): 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. Eric Fehr (@ericfehr): Unbelievably sad news on the passing of Rick Rypien..One of the toughest players I ever played against..Thoughts and prayers with his family The National Post’s Tim Campbell caught up with Jason Jaffray, Rypien’s former teammate with the both the Canucks and the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. Jaffray seemed to be one of the people who took Rypien’s death the hardest. “Rick was a guy everybody loved having on his team,” Jaffray said Monday night from his home in Olds, Alta. “You hated to play against him. You loved him in your dressing room because you knew he’d have your back, especially if your top-end guys were run over or taken advantage of. He be the first to step up. “He cared, and you loved him in there having your back. He was one of those foot soldiers that brings the team together.” Jaffray also echoed the sentiments of many other players, who found it remarkable that Rypien was willing to fight enforcers who often held massive height and/or weight advantages over him. Read this post for statements from the Canucks, the Winnipeg Jets (who recently signed him to a one-year contract) and the NHLPA. Fan reactions Again, it’s nearly impossible to capture the downpour of emotions from fans regarding Rypien’s death. Here are some of the reactions that we came across in the last several hours, though. Alixis Wright provided a very personal account of one of her favorite players, whom she gave the unlikely nickname “Mermaid.” I didn’t know Rypien; not personally. But he was important and special to me in that sort of strange, inexplicable fan with a favourite player kind of way. When I went to training camp in 2009, Rypien sat on the ice to stretch and looked exactly like a mermaid. Mermaid was probably the most ridiculous nickname in history for one of the toughest fighters in the league but that’s what I called him from then on. He was fun to watch, fighting guys much taller and heavier than he was and making it look graceful. He was fast and an underrated passer. I really thought he had the potential to be more than a fighter. 576613 Websites NBCSports.com / Bill Daly on Islanders watch party: ‘We do not approve of the use, based on what we know’ James O'Brien By now, you’re probably aware – and depending on your allegiances or viewpoints on celebrating violence, maybe irate – about the New York Islanders’ plan to host a watch party for their infamous February 11 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. (If you’re not, for the details on that situation, with the viewing party planned for August 19.) While I agree that event is in poor taste, it strikes me as the equivalent to people who are obsessed with the “Saw” franchise. It’s not really something I have any interest in, but if that’s their idea of a good time, then have at it. There’s no denying that night’s existence despite the fact that most of the hockey world would like to bury it alongside any memories of Bobby Orr playing for the Chicago Blackhawks, so if the Islanders and their fans want to bask in its ugly glow, then they should be allowed to do it. There’s no denying that it isn’t a great idea for the image of the team or the NHL, though, so it should be no surprise that the league isn’t thrilled about the idea. USA Today’s Kevin Allen passed along word that the NHL is “looking into it,” although it’s difficult to grasp what that entails. “We do not approve of the use, based on what we know,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. It’s an awkward situation for the NHL to be in, because it’s unclear what they could do – or most importantly, how far they would want to go – to make the whole thing go away. To little surprise, Penguins GM Ray Shero didn’t seem very keen on the idea, either. On if he has a problem with the Islanders planning a viewing party for the Feb. 11 game: The Islanders have a good, young hockey team and that’s what I think we should be talking about. They should have a good year there for themselves. What they’re doing off the ice – if they want to revisit (that game), that’s fine. But that’s not a game we’re going to revisit. We’re going to put that behind us. We’re not proud of it. It’s time to move on. So the NHL and the Penguins disapprove of the Islanders’ viewing party, along with a substantial chunk of the hockey populace. Again, I personally view the Islanders as “that friend” who has a tendency to say all the wrong things and generally look like a fool in this case; it’s not the recommended course of action, but there might not be many better options than just letting them have their misguided fun. We’ll keep an eye out for any updates on this situation – especially if the viewing party gets canceled – as its Friday launch rapidly approaches. NBCSports.com / LOADED: 08.17.2011 576614 Websites So, in the case of so many, it gets unloaded at the bar. Or in the case of Probert and Boogaard, the dealer gets a call. Whatever led to the phone call that Alberta RCMP received just after 12 Sportsnet.ca / A tough loss p.m. Monday, concerning a "sudden and non-suspicious death," we may never know. Mark Spector But we know this for sure: it is seldom a 20-goal winger or power play defenceman whose home the cops arrive at when those calls are received. It’s no cliché, the words they use when they talk about what guys like Like some enforcers before him, it appears Rick Rypien was fighting his Rypien do. own demons. It is, to be sure, the toughest job in hockey. We won’t claim to have known Rick Rypien well. Too tough, sadly, for so many of them. There were a few chats in a handful of dressing rooms over the years, but never the kind of conversation that would qualify as relationship building. Sportsnet.ca LOADED: 08.17.2011 But we’ve known plenty of players like Rypien over the years, and most – if not all – filled the same role on the roster. The tortured heavyweight has become a hockey cliché. Spend some time around the game and you’ll see plenty of them. Dave Semenko. Bob Probert. John Kordic. Louie DeBrusk. Derek Boogaard. All had a soft, off-ice side to them that could never reconcile with the hardened fighter they had to be on the ice in order to take home that fat National Hockey League paycheque. So to quiet the demons, they chose drink, or drugs, or constant angst. And it allowed them to deal with the behemoth who awaited in the next town, on the next roster, or the children who looked up at them innocently and asked, "Are you going to beat up so and so next game?" So we won’t claim to know for sure where Rick Rypien’s troubles started. We don’t yet know how (or why) he died at his home in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass, and we’ll likely never know for sure whether his demons were there from birth, in some sort of chemical imbalance or bi-polar disorder, or if they arrived later on. Was he suffering from mental illness? And if so, why couldn’t it be treated? Was he another player who gradually realized he would never be skilled enough at the game not to have to punch for his paycheque? But perhaps the longer he played, the less he could stomach what he had to do every other night to hold his spot on the team. "Rick has been a beloved member of the Canucks family for the past six years," his former team said in a statement released Monday night. "Rick was a great teammate and friend to our players, coaches and staff. We send our deepest condolences to the Rypien family at this most difficult time." They’ll say that about any player who passes tragically at the young age of 27. But when you did what Rypien did, the part about being "a great teammate" carried a little extra weight. Rypien was that fourth-line cruiserweight, no heavyweight at 5-11 and 190 lbs. He was smaller than the Hal Gills, Ben Eagers, Boris Valabiks or Cody McLeods, though he’d fought them all before. Rypien was, pound-for-pound, as punishing a fighter as we can recall seeing in years. Like a Wendel Clark in the old Norris Division, Rypien regularly beat up Edmonton’s Zack Stortini, despite giving up five inches and 25 lbs. And that’s what always puzzles about players who do what these guys do. They always look so comfortable in their craft when they set the ground rules with a fellow enforcer while waiting for the puck to be dropped. You never see the fear when they stand there in front of 18,000 fans, bare- knuckle fighting under the glare of the TV cameras. But so many of them speak later of how scared they were at that moment; how they barely got out of the shower after the game when the thought of the tough guy from tomorrow night’s opponent darkened their head space. The toughest part, a fighter once told us, is that guys like Rypien could never let that fear show. That there was no one to talk to about it. Their persona is such a big part of the role as the protector on their team, that there is nowhere for that player to unload his baggage. 576615 Websites Tuesday, the NHL is mourning another loss. USA TODAY LOADED: 08.17.2011 USA TODAY / Tributes pour in for NHL's Rick Rypien By Mike Brehm, USA TODAY Rick Rypien, the NHL tough guy who was found dead at his Alberta home Monday, was receiving an outpouring of support over the Internet Tuesday. Three fans on Facebook are setting up an impromptu memoriam Wednesday for the popular former Canucks fourth-liner who signed with the Winnipeg Jets during the summer. They are asking fans to gather near the Roger Neilson statue at Vancouver's Rogers Arena at 2 p.m. PT. "We plan to bring a big book for everyone to write their condolences in and hopefully we will get the book to the Rypien family," fans Alex Ransford, Folake Adesugba and Ellen Ransford wrote on the Facebook page. Tributes poured in on Twitter from former teammates and opponents. "I will always have the memories from Vancouver with Rick," wrote New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner. "Also pound for pound was one of the toughest guys out there." Added Anaheim Ducks tough guy George Parros: "Rick Rypien will be missed. He was the nicest guy, hung with him a few times in VAN…tough as all hell too." The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta said they received a call Monday afternoon about a "sudden and non-suspicious" death. The Jets and Canucks confirmed that it was Rypien, 27. It's the NHL's second recent death. New York Rangers tough guy Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minnesota apartment in May, the result of an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone. Jets assistant general manager Craig Heisinger planned to hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. ET in Winnipeg's MTS Centre. Rypien, the cousin of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, went undrafted out of the Regina Pats and played parts of six seasons with the Canucks. Otherwise, he played for their farm team, the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League. According to hockeyfights.com, Rypien had 38 NHL fights in his career, including 20 during the 2009-10 season. Though 5-11, 195, he was willing to take on bigger players. In one game against the Ottawa Senators last season, he fought 6-4 Matt Carkner and 6-1 Chris Neil, both of whom top 210 pounds. When he left the ice surface after an October fight, he shoved a Minnesota Wild fan and received a six-game suspension. Several weeks after returning, he went on a leave of absence to deal with an undisclosed personal issue. He later told the Winnipeg Free Press that the leave had nothing to do with drugs, alcohol or substance abuse. "It's a personal issue, a rare issue, what's going on," Rypien said then. "I think I'm a good person who's had some bad luck along the way with some unfortunate circumstances." Rypien, an unrestricted free agent, jumped at the chance to join the Jets this summer. "I'm the most excited I've ever been," he said on a conference call after signing a one-year, $700,000 deal. "Just the fact that I get to come back where I started my professional career and kind of get my feet back on the ground." Rypien said it was a no-brainer to join up again with True North Sports and Entertainment, who owned the Moose and purchased the Atlanta Thrashers and moved them north. "Probably the easiest thing it came down to was the character that those guys have, how much they believe in me, the opportunity they've given me, how much they've stuck by me, their loyalty to me," he said. "I just wanted to be loyal back to them. … The fact that they went out of their way and called me, it went a long way for me."