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NHL Player Rick Rypien Found Dead at 27

Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

Winnipeg Jets center Rick Rypien was found dead at his Alberta home on Aug. 15. Cause of death was not released, but police said it was not suspicious. He was 27.

Born and raised in Coleman, Alberta, Rypien came from a family of athletes. His father, Wes Rypien, was a Canadian boxing champion and his older brother, Wes Jr., played in the WHL. Rypien was also a distant cousin of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien, who was named the most valuable player of Super Bowl XXVI in 1988.

After four seasons with the Regina Pats, Rypien joined the Vancouver Canucks in 2005. During his six seasons with the team, he racked up nine goals and seven assists in 119 career NHL games. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound forward also developed a reputation for dropping the gloves and fighting with his much larger opponents, which earned him 226 penalty minutes. Last season, he received a six-game suspension from the NHL for grabbing a fan on his way to the dressing room.

Off the ice, Rypien struggled with depression. He took an extended personal leave after a rash of injuries two years ago, missing 70 games during the 2008-09 season, and another last November to deal with an undisclosed personal matter. In July, Rypien signed a $700,000, one-year deal with the newly established Winnipeg Jets.

“We would like to express our sincere sympathies to the Rypien family as well as Rick’s friends,” True North Sports & Entertainment and the Winnipeg Jets stated. “We also appreciate all of the support that has come pouring in from Rick’s fans. 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.”

[Associated Press]

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