Amidst a tragic and confusing time, fans in Vancouver decided to take the opportunity to honor Rick Rypien with a makeshift memorial at Rogers Arena on Wednesday afternoon. A Facebook group announced that there would be a gathering set up between 2:00-8:00 to pay their respects to a player who was known for giving it his all for his team. At the memorial there were books for fans to sign and express condolences—the line to sign the books that will be sent off to the Rypien family was at times 40-50 people long. Organizers said that halfway through the memorial that there were already 500 signatures and messages of condolences in the books with many more expected throughout the late afternoon and early evening. Even hours after the memorial was set to conclude, people are still paying their respects on a Facebook page set up for well-wishers. (You can as well.)
Here’s an example of the type of fans who showed up to pay their respects. From Mike Raptis of the Vancouver Province:
“30-year-old Dave Morgan from Vancouver brought the last Manitoba Moose jersey Rypien wore to the memorial and has talked to the Canucks organization about giving it back to the Rypien family.
“If the family would like it, I’m more than happy to send it off to them and bring them some happy memories,” Morgan said.
“If they don’t want it, then it will bring me happy memories for the rest of my life.”
“He wasn’t a huge guy but he would always stick up for his teammates. He kind of inspired me to be tougher in my own life.”
The Canucks official site captured the scene with a good slideshow of various photos from the fan memorial outside Rogers Arena.
While there will be plenty of people using this tragedy to springboard a greater debate, today we focus on celebrating the life and career of a man whose soul had far too many demons. We celebrate the player who played with kind of speed and energy that even the hockey novice could understand. We celebrate a player who would stick up for his teammates and brought excitement to the Vancouver Canucks and Manitoba Moose for the last seven years. Save the debate for another day: today fighting is a part of our game—and you’d be hard pressed to a better pound-for-pound fighter than Rypien.
Without further adieu, here are some of his career highlights with the Ripper doing what he did best.
Oh, it’s playmaking you want? Rypien provided this beaut as well:
On this day where fans celebrated his life, our thoughts go out to his friends and family. We can’t even imagine the grief… may Rick rest in peace.
Update (8/18/11): Nucks Misconduct has some good pictures that captured the event very well.