On Thursday, a handful of NHLers paid tribute to Rick Rypien with a charity hockey game in Rypien’s hometown of Coleman, Alberta.
The game — held a year to the day of Rypien’s passing — featured Kevin Bieksa, Tanner Glass, Darcy Hordichuk, and Kris Versteeg. The 27-year-old Rypien was found dead in his home on Aug. 15, 2011 — it was learned after his passing that he’d been battling depression.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Rick, and I am thankful for the opportunity to join his family and friends in an evening celebrating his legacy,” said Bieksa in a statement. “Coaching and visiting with these kids gave us a chance to remember what was important to Rick: giving back to kids through the sport of hockey.”
Bieksa has been instrumental in the startup and development of Mindcheck, a website that helps recognize symptoms and better understand the challenges of mental illness.
It was another of the initiatives that came from the tragedy of Rypien’s passing, something Bieksa has been passionate about.
“I obviously have a personal interest invested in this and it’s near and dear to my heart to carry on his legacy,” Bieksa said of Mindcheck back in January. “I went through it with him the last few years and understand the struggles and mental health challenges and how underestimated it can be and how overlooked, too.
“There’s still not a lot of conversation out there and we’re trying to raise awareness and erase the stigma associated with it. Hopefully, we don’t have to see anybody else go through something like that.”
Kevin Bieksa pays tribute to Rick Rypien with Mindcheck.ca
Canucks to honor Rick Rypien
Calgary has placed veterans Mason Raymond and Paul Byron on waivers, per TVA.
Of the two, Raymond is the big story — Calgary splashed big to land him on the opening day of free agency in ’14, signing the speedster to a three-year, $9.45M contract.
Raymond, 30, appeared to be a bad fit for head coach Bob Hartley almost from the start. Though he produced reasonably well on offense — 12 goals and 23 points in 57 games — he sat as a healthy scratch on a number of occasions, including the start of the playoffs.
Raymond carries a $3.15M cap hit this year and the next, so it’s highly unlikely he’ll get claimed by another team. Should he clear and be sent to AHL Stockton, Calgary will recoup $950,000 in cap space.
As for Byron, the 26-year-old is on a one-year deal at $900,000. Like Raymond, he produced in limited time last year — 19 points in 57 games — but missed significant time in the second half of the season to a sports hernia.
Zack Kassian has a broken nose and a broken left foot as a result of a car accident on early Sunday morning in Montreal.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin shared that news this morning, while also sharing his disappointment in the 24-year-old winger.
“I’m a firm believer in character and that’s a lack of character and judgment on his part,” Bergevin told reporters. “I don’t know how many wake up calls you get.”
A 20-year-old woman was reportedly driving the truck that crashed into a tree at around 6 a.m. Kassian and an 18-year-old woman were passengers.
“(Kassian) was all bloodied up and stuff. He was in a daze,” a witness told the Montreal Gazette. “He had a hard time walking, and he almost took a fall.”
Kassian’s professionalism was often called into question during his time with the Vancouver Canucks, who traded him to Montreal this offseason.
“As you grow older, you mature,” Kassian said after the trade. “I really feel like Montreal’s a great fit for me. I’m ready to do everything to help the team win. I’m excited to get there. At the end of the day, nobody wants to get traded two times. But it’s a learning curve.”