Super Bowl XXVI MVP quarterback Mark Rypien speaks about death of cousin Rick

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The sad and untimely death of former Canucks forward Rick Rypien is bringing out an outpouring of emotion from all over the NHL world. Players, executives, and coaches are all expressing their grief over the discovery of Rypien being found dead in his Alberta,Canada home. After years of dealing with depression, reports of Rypien’s death ultimately being a suicide are rampant.

One person who knew Rick Rypien better than most is a fellow athlete and family member with the same last name. Former Washington Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien was Rick’s cousin. As you’d expect, he was taken aback by the news of the sudden death of his troubled cousin. Sadly for Rypien, tragedy is something he’s too familiar with after losing his own son at age 3 to cancer.

Randy Sportak of Sun Media has Rypien’s take.

“It’s so surreal. Here one day and gone the next,” Mark Rypien said from Spokane.

“He was a young man whose best years were still ahead of him. From our family’s standpoint, it’s been a sad day and a half.”

“From seeing him two weeks ago and now he’s not with us anymore, it’s really tough,” Mark said. “It’s tough to think we were on a golf course having a cold beverage laughing and giggling, and here we are putting a young kid way too young into the ground.

“I’ve been there before with my own child and it’s not how the circle of life is supposed to be. You’re not supposed to put your children into the ground before yourselves.

“It’s a tough day.”

After reading so many takes on Rypien’s death, including a powerful one from The National Post’s Bruce Arthur, it’s the sort of thing that makes you reflect on your own life and think about those who you know that struggle with depression or to those you’ve lost to suicide. Those who deal with depression often do so in private which makes it so hard to try and help them out when the need it the most.

For a guy like Rypien who was getting as much help as he was from the Canucks organization and seemingly getting himself back in order to move on and look to restart his career with the Winnipeg Jets, seeing it all end now seems so out of the blue and so wrong. What this shows us is that depression can be battled and treated but it will always be there in some way. It doesn’t have to be obvious, it could just sit below the surface slowly eating away at one’s psyche.

Those that live with family or friends dealing with depression know how hard it can be and for those that deal with it personally they know all too well how hard it is to keep a consistently strong frame of mind. Sadly for Rick Rypien, even with a new start in the NHL ahead of him, things went wrong somewhere for him making what could’ve been a great comeback story into a terrible and saddening tragedy.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, never be afraid to reach out. The Depression and Bi-Polar Alliance can provide help and information there. The same applies for those who feel suicidal. Losing a loved one to suicide is a horrible experience and one that never leaves you. If you or someone you know whose feelings and problems are pushing them to contemplate suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is the best resource and outreach group to turn to.

The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)

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Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime

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After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.

Wow.

With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.

Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

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Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.

Video: Draisaitl, Slepyshev score on breakaways, Talbot spurns Marleau

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Some playoff games or even series come down to something as stupidly simple as one team taking advantage of their opportunities while the other fails to capitalize on chances.

If Game 6 of the Oilers – Sharks series follows the story of the second period, then San Jose may join Saturday’s stream of eliminated teams.

It’s not fair to boil it down to three breakaways, but some might feel that way.

Leon Draisaitl looked like a gritty, strong veteran during his first career playoff goal, bulling his way to the net for 1-0 breakaway tally. About a minute later, Anton Slepyshev was even more alone against Martin Jones, and he scored his first postseason goal to make it 2-0.

That stings for the Sharks, and it doesn’t help that they had a similar chance not long after. This time around, Patrick Marleau couldn’t beat Cam Talbot, so it remained 2-0 for Edmonton.

That’s the same score as the game enters the third period, even with some dangerous late chances for the Sharks.

If the Sharks don’t score at least two goals in the third, their push to return to the Stanley Cup Final could end in the first round.