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.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.