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In their own words

Monday, 17.10.2011 / 9:00 PM / Features
By Derek Jory
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In their own words

Regardless of the task at hand, Rick Rypien always gave it his all, right through to completion.

Even when dressed up for Halloween.

“I think one of the funniest stories was at one of our Halloween parties,” shared Ryan Kesler, Rypien’s teammate from 2005-2011 with both the Vancouver Canucks and Manitoba Moose. “He came as Fred Flintstone and was wearing one of the biggest Fred Flintstone heads I had ever seen. He refused to take it off at the party until the very end of the night. I laugh every time I think of him wearing that.”

Family, friends and fans, everyone has a favourite Rypien memory, sharing these still eases the pain of the loved one lost.

Below is a collection of quotes from noted hockey figures from around the National Hockey League. Share your Rypien memories at Canucks.com/37ryp.

Kevin Bieksa, Rypien’s best friend on the Canucks

“The best way to describe our relationship was that we were like brothers. We knew each other for a long time. Our relationship began in hockey and going to war with each other. We both played the game the same way and bonded over that.

“He was a very genuine person with a huge heart. He really cared about other people. He was very selfless. He cared a lot about what other people thought. He wanted to make everybody happy and make everybody proud. On the ice he would stick up for his teammates. He wasn’t the biggest guy but he would do whatever it took for his teammates. Same thing with his family. He was just a fun guy to be around and a team favourite.”

Trevor Linden, Rypien’s teammate from 2005-2008

“I sat beside him on the plane for a season. We got to know one another quite well and he spoke a lot of his home he bought in Crowsnest Pass and how much he loved living there. After I retired I was competing in the Trans-Rockies bike race and the race went through his hometown. After the stage, his mom and dad were there and they had made a huge roast beef dinner for my cycling partner and I. Ryp joined us and it made for a very fun night.

“He was a very good player and over the years I encouraged him to develop his game because he had good skills and instincts. There is no doubt he was a good fighter, but he was much more than that…he was a very good player. I really liked Rick, I rooted hard for him because everything he got in hockey, he earned. He was never drafted, but worked his way to the big leagues on heart and determination.”

Scott Arniel, Rypien’s Manitoba head coach from 2006-2010

“He loved the dressing room and being around the guys. He sat beside Mike Keane. Keaner was very loud and Ryp was the opposite. He was a quiet type. The first year I took the entire team fishing. Ryp was into that, he thought it was greatest thing going. We put three guys in a boat and he was one of the captains in the boat. It became a special time where he was out teaching the guys how to fish. There was lots of laughs, everyone came back to camp and had a story. He really enjoyed that part of a team - everyone being out together.”

Jason Jaffray, Rypien’s longtime teammate and friend

“The first time I met Rick was in Winnipeg when we called him up from the WHL. I remember first seeing him in the locker room and thinking ‘who is the new stick boy?’ He couldn't have weighed more than 165 pounds and he had a baby face that made him look as if he was 14.

“He earned the nickname ‘Sparky’ because of the way he played on the ice. He was a spark plug for our team, not only with his fighting but he could skate 100 mph and hammer players twice his size. He would fight guys who were almost a foot taller than him and 50 pounds heavier than him and seemed to always do well. It was really amazing to watch.

“He would do whatever he could to help his team win. Rypper was also a guy who always had his teammates back. He would run through a wall for anyone wearing the same jersey as him. He was a great friend and will be deeply missed.”

Alain Vigneault, Rypien’s Manitoba and Vancouver head coach 2005-2011

“I remember an anecdote he had gone there the year before me…Randy was coaching at the time and didn’t want to play him because he thought he was really small. Zinger (Craig Heisinger) never gets involved in the line-ups, but that time he showed Randy his card and said I’m the general manager of this team and I want you to give this guy a chance. Because he put it in such a nice way, Randy decided to give him a chance.

“He was a hard-nosed, physical forward. He came to play hard. He could throw checks that would be tempo changers and get the other team upset. Someone would then get up after him and he’d take care of himself.”

Alex Burrows, Rick Rypien’s teammate 2004.05 to 2010.11

“I first met Rypper at the end of the lockout year, just before the playoffs in Manitoba. Rypper had just come out of junior from Regina. He was a young guy out of junior and still had a baby face. The first time we saw him we didn’t really know what to expect. But once he hit the ice, you could tell he was fearless. He was a really good skater and he loved to crash and bang. When he got into his first fight down there it was a real eye opener.

“He was one of the best teammates around. He was always there to back everyone up and that’s the hockey side of things. On the personal side, he was the type of guy that just tried to have a good time. Every time we spent time together away from the rink it was always about having fun and enjoying the moment.”