Jets add trio

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:09 AM ET

TORONTO - The next step in the on-ice road to recovery for Rick Rypien is taking place in the city that gave him his start in professional hockey.

First signed on an amateur tryout offer, Rypiens tenacity and willingness to take on opponents far larger than him, earned him a contract and eventually, steady employment, with the Vancouver Canucks.

While injuries and personal issues threatened to derail a once-promising career, it was the Manitoba Moose who helped him launch his comeback last spring.

So it should come as little surprise that the Winnipeg Jets signed the gritty forward to a one-year, one-way contract on Saturday, for $700,000.

Waking up (Friday) morning, I didnt know what was going to happen, I was pretty nervous but Im more excited than Ive ever been, Rypien said via conference call from his home in Coleman, Alta. It was kind of a no-brainer, the fact that they wanted me there.

The Jets made two other moves on Saturday, agreeing to terms with defenceman Randy Jones to a one-year, one-way deal for $1.15 million and former Moose defenceman Mark Flood to a one-year, two-way deal (terms not disclosed).

Jones, who turns 30 later this month, spent last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning (one goal, 13 points in 61 games) and has 19 goals and 103 points in 326 career NHL games.

Flood, 26, had 11 goals and 40 points for the Moose and appeared in six games with the New York Islanders during the 2009-10 season. Hell likely play a leadership role with St. Johns, but could push for NHL games as a depth player.

Rypien, 27, was limited to nine NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks last season and left the team in November to deal with some personal issues.

Once he was cleared to return, Rypien was loaned to the Moose, where he appeared in 11 games during the stretch drive and another seven during the playoffs.

Rypien earned the trust of head coach Claude Noel and is looking forward to getting his career back on track at the NHL level.

Now that I know where Im going, its going to motivate me that much more Im already very well motivated and happy to be playing, said Rypien, who is fully recovered from a knee injury that knocked him out of the North Division against the Hamilton Bulldogs and required surgery. The team is going to have a lot of energy. Its going to be a character team and everyone is going to feed off everyone.

Rypien considered several other offers on July 1, but knew in his mind what the best destination for him was.

This is all new to me, Ive never been to unrestricted free agency before, said Rypien, who spoke with Noel, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, director of hockey operations Craig Heisinger and co-owner Mark Chipman during the process. I had a few really good offers that made things a little difficult, but I knew going into it, no matter what was offered, I knew where I wanted to end up and I think I made the right decision.

It came down to the character those guys have and how much they believe in me, the opportunity theyve given me and how much theyve stuck by me, their loyalty to me. I wanted to be loyal back to them. The fact they went out of their way to call me, it went a long way. Im truly grateful.

Rypien also thanked the Canucks for their patience during a tenure that included several injuries and some personal anguish.

Theres no hard feelings at all with them and what they did for me, thatll never be forgotten, said Rypien, who appeared in 119 NHL games with the Canucks, picking up nine goals, 16 points and 226 penalty minutes.

Former Atlanta Thrashers winger Anthony Stewart, who wasnt given a qualifying offer by the Jets on Monday and became an unrestricted free agent, signed a two-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.


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