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.”