I have no idea what happened in the sad Rick Rypien story, and I’m not going to speculate.
And I hope that the deaths of Derek Boogaard, 28, and Rick Rypien, 27, this summer will get NHL owners to take this very seriously, get the NHL’s behavioral and substance abuse folks to be more aware of the signs. I’m not suggesting that they don’t, or that they are responsible or that they were negligent in any way. Certainly not. I just hope that these incidents mean that the league and its teams can do more for troubled players.
I hope that coaches and GMs don’t simply cut or trade or demote a guy with these personal/mental issues, and instead, across the board, try to step in and help these young men. (Sadly, I have heard of situations where a player had a substance abuse problem and was simply traded away … let the other team deal with him … for God’s sake!).
Facts: Rypien was suspended by the league for six games last fall for a physical confrontation with a fan in Minnesota. Rypien then took a leave of absense to deal with personal issues which reportedly included depression. Rypien signed with Winnipeg this summer. Rypien was found dead yesterday, and reports say that it was a suicide.
Just so terribly sad. Maybe—probably—unavoidable. You just hope that the NHL and its teams do all they can to be aware, to have a keener eye for the signals, and to help players who have problems down the road.
There was a story in a very recent issue of Sports Illustrated on the demons some athletes face, and on the rash of suicides among pro athletes. You can read it here.
AP photo, above.