NHL to take hard look at programs

Canucks fans show the number 37, worn by former Canucks forward Rick Rypien, during a remembrance...

Canucks fans show the number 37, worn by former Canucks forward Rick Rypien, during a remembrance ceremony near Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., Aug. 17, 2011. (ANDY CLARK/Reuters)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:30 PM ET

The NHL and its players union will likely revisit the league’s substance abuse and behavioural health program in the wake of the death of Winnipeg Jets forward Rick Rypien.

Rypien, who used the program to get treatment for depression, is the second active player to die suddenly this year.

New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard, 28, died in May after mixing alcohol and painkillers, after which reports indicated he received counseling through the program.

“My guess is we’ll talk at the appropriate time with the players association, making sure we’re comfortable with all of the mechanisms and programs we have in place, which are extensive,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the Canadian Press. “I don’t think any sports league does more than we do but maybe there’s more, as we focus on it, that we need to focus on.”

Rypien, 27, was found dead in his Alberta home, Monday, an incident the RCMP called “sudden and non-suspicious.” Boogaard was 28.

“If anything could have been done that would have helped those players, if anything can be done to help future players, we certainly need to do it,” former NHLer Mathieu Schneider, the special adviser to players union boss Don Fehr, said.

Rypien twice took leaves of absence from the Vancouver Canucks to deal with his depression.

“Maybe it would have been better had Rick been able to lean on some teammates and guys there for support,” Schneider said. “But those types of things have always been kind of taboo. You just don’t talk about it.”


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