Mark Rypien

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.

Report: Bruins’ Khokhlachev to sign in KHL

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins
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Alexander Khokhlachev’s time with the Boston Bruins is up, according to a report out of Russia that has the 22-year-old forward signing with SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL.

The deal reportedly won’t be announced until after June 30; Khokhlachev is under contract with the B’s until then. But the fact he’s apparently decided to depart for the KHL should come as no surprise.

A second-round draft pick in 2011, Khokhlachev has spent the last three seasons piling up points in the AHL; however, he’s only appeared in nine NHL games.

Earlier this month, his agent told CBS Boston, “Alexander did not really get a chance for all the years that he signed a deal, for four years, the deals he signed with Boston, didn’t really get a chance to play in the National Hockey League, so he won’t stay in the organization.”

SKA acquired Khokhlachev’s KHL rights last summer.

Related: Khokhlachev just wants a chance

Jackets not expected to sign Quebec league prospect Pelletier

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28:  Julien Pelletier meets his team after being drafted #107 by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Julien Pelletier, the QMJHL Sherbrooke forward taken in the fourth round of the ’14 draft, is unlikely to receive an entry-level contract from the Blue Jackets, per the Columbus Dispatch.

The move would mean Pelletier could re-enter this year’s draft. The Blue Jackets have until Wednesday to decide if they want to sign him, or trade his rights to another team.

Taken five spots ahead of Viktor Arvidsson — who’s become a nice young player for Nashville — Pelletier had a solid season in Sherbrooke, finishing second on the team in goals (with 27).

This year, he was in training camp with the Jackets but sent home early.

Per the Dispatch, the Jackets are also unlikely to sign another ’14 draftee — Olivier Leblanc, who was taken in the seventh round.

‘Invigorated’ Hitch signs for one final year in St. Louis

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Ken Hitchcock is taking one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues.

The club announced today a one-year contract extension for the 64-year-old head coach. Hitchcock then confirmed during a press conference that 2016-17 will be his final year. He plans to retire from coaching once it’s over.

“I just feel like I’ve got this really good year in me,” Hitchcock said. “This season has invigorated me like no season before.”

The Blues, of course, made it all the way to the Western Conference Final this year. The previous four postseasons under Hitchcock, they made it to the second round once, then lost three straight times in the first round.

“This group of players, their dynamic has changed, and it’s really exciting right now,” he said.

There will be at least one change to the coaching staff. GM Doug Armstrong said today that associate coach Brad Shaw will not be back. The rest of the staff has been offered one-year extensions to match Hitchcock’s.

Now that the decision has been made on the head coach, Armstrong can turn his full attention to the roster. Getting Jaden Schwartz, a pending restricted free agent, signed to a long-term deal will be his initial focus.

As for the captain, pending unrestricted free agent David Backes, there’s interest in bringing him back, but the numbers have to make sense. Forwards Troy Brouwer, Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall are also UFAs.

On the back end, Kevin Shattenkirk is probably the biggest wild card. He can become unrestricted next summer, and there has been speculation he could be traded this summer. But as of right now, Armstrong expects him to be back.

Armstrong also said there’s a chance Vladimir Sobotka could return to the Blues next season. Sobotka has spent the last two years in the KHL.

However the roster looks next season, it will be interesting to see what Hitchcock can get out of it. The Blues got over a big hump in 2016, but they only got halfway to winning it all.

One thing’s for sure, though, and that’s this:

Related: Parayko’s ‘memorable’ season has extended into the playoffs

NHL explains no suspension for Marleau, says he didn’t ‘pick’ Rust’s head

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PITTSBURGH — Shortly after reports surfaced that San Jose’s Patrick Marleau wouldn’t face supplemental discipline for his hit on Pittsburgh’s Bryan Rust in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety issued a series of tweets explaining their decision.

Following last night’s game, Marleau said he didn’t think he’d be suspended for the hit, explaining that he “kind of let [Rust] skate into me.”

“I just tried to keep everything down,” Marleau added. “I didn’t want to get too high on him.”

Marleau’s assessment was in direct contrast with Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan.

“It’s a blindside hit to the head,” he said. “[Marleau] gets a penalty and I’m sure the league will look at it.”

As for Rust, Sullivan listed him as day-to-day with an upper-body injury following the contest. The hit knocked Rust out of last night’s game, and the Penguins haven’t began their off-day practice yet.

More to follow…