Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 08/19/11 at 11:00 PM ET
from Ian Brown of the Globe and Mail,
Mr. Rypien, 27, is the third National Hockey League enforcer to die prematurely in the past year. Derek Boogaard, 28, the former New York Rangers enforcer, expired in May from an overdose of alcohol and oxycodone. The supreme enforcer Bob Probert, no stranger to drugs and booze, collapsed unexpectedly last summer from a heart attack and couldn’t be revived. He was 45.
Mr. Rypien’s demon was depression; he needed two leaves of absence from the Canucks to fight “undisclosed personal problems,” and his father – a former Golden Gloves champion – admitted this week that depression has run in the family.
What he was suicidal about awaits disclosure; whether his depression was partly related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by an enforcer’s constant hockey fights will be answered only when scientists examine his brain. But reducing Rick Rypien’s suicide to hockey policy misses the point of his career and his sport.
Mr. Rypien was one of the NHL’s storied enforcers – the goons who are the game’s accidental warriors. Like Laraque and McSorley and Domi and all the others tough enough to be known by one name, Mr. Rypien protected his teammates by crushing opponents.
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