Rypien, who just a month before his passing signed a one-year $700,000 deal with the Winnipeg Jets, had previous spent parts of six seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, but was twice in three years forced off the ice to deal with undisclosed personal issues.
Upon receiving word of his death, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, National Hockey League Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr and the Jets’ owners praised Rypien and offered their condolences.
“We are deeply saddened to confirm Rick’s passing. We would like to express our sincere sympathies to the Rypien family as well as Rick’s friends,” a statement released by Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club said. “Rick was a talented player with an extremely bright future. His hunger for the game made him a valued team member both on and off the ice. This loss has impacted us as more than just a hockey team.”
In his 119 NHL game career, Rick scored nine goals, dished out seven assists, and spent a total of 226 minutes in the penalty box.
Rypien’s death, which the police believe to be “sudden and non-suspicious,” was the NHL’s second in the last three months – New York Rangers forward Derek Boogaard died of a drug and alcohol overdose May 13 at age 28.