Vancouver fans mourn Rypien
STEPHANIE IP, QMI Agency
|A woman leaves a sign at a memorial for of Rick Rypien outside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., Aug. 16, 2011. (CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI Agency)
VANCOUVER - Wearing a Canucks shirt and hat, Joy Sodmuy held back tears as she taped a small poster to a concrete pillar outside Rogers Arena. The words, “Good Canadian kid” are written in blue and green.
“He’s a real fighter. He’s just a small guy with a really big heart,” Sodmuy said of former Canucks player, Rick Rypien, found dead in his Alberta home Monday.
But as fans mourned the loss of Rypien, long speculated to be dealing with mental health issues, some are calling on the league to do more for their players in light of the stressful nature of professional sports.
“I’d like to see more transparency with regards to what the NHL is doing to make sure players are emotionally healthy,” said fan Kelli Leone, citing the death of former New York Ranger Derek Boogaard in May due to a mixture of alcohol and painkillers. “We hear about the people who take care of their bodies … but not the psychologist. This is a good place where they can … take the stigma off mental health.”
A fan memorial is scheduled for today at the memorial site where tea lights on the ground spell out Rypien’s initials and number – 37. Markers are taped next to a poster board, a collection of fan messages already overlapping.
“Thanks for standing up for the boys,” read one message.
“You kept it classy, you kept it clean, you kept it pro,” said another.
George Bonofas attended the site on his lunch break.
“I need to be here for Rick, to honour him,” said the 18-year-old, adding the death was a shock. Rypien recently signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Winnipeg Jets, leading Bonofas to believe the player had conquered his demons.