Last time I wrote you an open letter, it was because of your outburst on a fan in Minnesota. The last time I wrote about you in a blog, it was when you took some personal time to yourself to deal with personal matters. I meant every word I wrote in those to entries and I mean every word I write to you now. I cannot pretend to imagine what you went through in your day to day life. I cannot pretend to know what your struggles really were on a personal level, so I won’t.
I write this to you, as someone who watched from the stands and on TV. I was… no strike that, I am a fan of Rick Rypien.
When I heard the news yesterday afternoon of your passing, I was immediately saddened. Although you became a Jet in the off-season, to me you’re always going to be a Canuck. In fact, you were my favourite tough guy to ever don the jersey. That puts you up there with the likes of Gino Odjick, Kurt Fraser and Brad May. You never backed down from a challenge on the ice, no matter at what disadvantage you were facing. Many of us fans admired that about you. Not many would have taken on the likes of guys like Hal Gill giving up the size and weight, but you did, without hesitation.
I just wanted to thank you for the memories. You were an exciting player to watch and I rooted for you from the get-go. You inspired many out there: Undrafted, moderately talented, but boy did you ever have heart. That alone gave you a reputation in the NHL. You thrilled fans in Regina, Winnipeg, Vancouver and around the NHL. A pit-bull or a wolverine. The ultimate underdog fighter, but you sure showed them on the ice. Truly inspiring.
I hope you find the peace in the afterlife that you were looking for in this life. I hope you keep fighting the good fight where ever you are, because I don’t expect any less.
This year, I hope your friends and former teammates can “Win one for the Ripper”.
You were our champion, our Rocky Balboa, and now we say goodbye, and thank you. Goodbye Rick, we will all miss you. My condolences to your family and friends. God speed.