The Vancouver Canucks will remember Rick Rypien tonight at Rogers Arena. The ceremony will feature a video tribute to Rypien, who passed away this summer after a battle with depression. There will also be an on-ice presentation before the Canucks take on the Rangers. The game will be televised across Canada on TSN. For those who can’t watch on TV, the ceremony will be streamed live on the Canucks’ website.
It promises to be an emotional night for everyone, but perhaps nobody will feel it more than Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.
The Vancouver Sun’s Iain MacIntyre wrote about the close bond that developed between Bieksa and Rypien as the latter struggled with mental illness.
While driving together to a workout before the Canucks’ 2008 training camp, Rypien confided in Bieksa about his mental issues, his anxiety and worry.
A few months later, when Rypien disappeared during his first leave of absence from the team, Bieksa and Moose general manager Craig Heisinger, who was like a second father-figure to Rick, met in Edmonton after a Canuck game and drove to Rypien’s home in southwestern Alberta.
“We went there looking for him,” Bieksa said. “Didn’t know what we’d find. We went to his house for four or five hours, just the two of us, hoping he’d come home and he finally did. That wasn’t the best day for him. But we got him back and we got him help.”
Naturally, people are still wondering why this happened. Was it because Rypien was a fighter? Was it because his girlfriend died in a car accident years ago? Bieksa wants everyone to know it was more complicated than that.
“There were a lot of things going on,” he said.
Image courtesy Canucks.com
The Canucks will honor Rypien’s memory with a $50,000 donation to BC Children’s Hospital Foundation to develop a website that will help young people recognize symptoms and better understand mental illness.