March 23, 2005
Moose sign top Pats player
By KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun
Just a few days ago, Rick Rypien was putting the finishing touches on his career in the Western Hockey League with the Regina Pats.
Rypien, a 20-year-old from Coleman, Alta., enjoyed personal success with 22 goals and 51 points in 63 games with the Pats, but the season itself was a struggle as the Pats finished dead last in the WHL with a record of 12-50-4-6.
One of those 12 wins came on Saturday night at the Agridome against the Brandon Wheat Kings, and Rypien made sure his final game on home ice was a memorable one as he tallied three goals and an assist in a 5-3 win that cost the Wheaties first overall in the Eastern Conference.
"It was good to end it like that at home," said Rypien, who was named the Pats team MVP, most popular player (fans' choice) and Molson Cup champion (for three star selection).
"Before that, we had a 29-game winless streak. It was good to break that."
POSTED AN OPEN LETTER
Rypien enjoyed his time with the Pats so much, he posted an open letter on the team's website Monday, giving thanks to the organization, teammates, billets, fans and the City of Regina.
A new chapter began for Rypien yesterday when he signed an amateur tryout offer with the Manitoba Moose.
During his first practice yesterday, Rypien was used at centre and found himself rotating on a line that included Cory Pecker, Justin Morrison and Wade Brookbank.
"Yeah, it's a big change, that's for sure," said Rypien, who had 47 goals, 114 points and 493 penalty minutes in 179 games with the Pats. "This is all new to me. I'm kind of getting used to everything, with rules and what is expected."
What is expected, at this point, is that Rypien provides some depth at a time when depth is required.
Although Rypien was not on the 22-man clear day roster declared by the Moose last week, he will be available immediately and is not subject to emergency conditions laid out in AHL roster rules.
Moose head coach Randy Carlyle doesn't know much about Rypien, but general manager Craig Heisinger has seen the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder play a few times during the past three seasons.
"He's a hard-nosed player, and he has a bit of a scoring touch to him," said Heisinger. "He's always showed up to play, even on bad teams."
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa played four games with the Moose at the end of last season after finishing his college career at Bowling Green University, but Heisinger doesn't expect anything like that to happen over the next few weeks.
"I don't think there's anybody from the Vancouver (Canucks) stable that will be coming in," said Heisinger.