Saying that the organization has an “obligation” to Rick Rypien and the late forward’s memory, Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said he would tackle the sometimes taboo subject of depression in the near future.
“At some point, I’m going to talk about our experiences with Rick,” Gillis said yesterday, after returning from Rypien’s funeral in Blairmore, Alta., this weekend. “I’m going to talk about what we faced, what the symptoms were like, and how different people, doctors, family members and teammates took precautions to try and avert this.”
Gillis said he was still collecting his thoughts on the sudden passing of Rypien, who was found dead in his Alberta home last week. He was 27.
The Canucks GM said he was unsure of the timing, but suspected that he would speak further about Rypien’s battle with depression closer to the start of the NHL regular season in October.
“We have an obligation to do this, and I think we have an obligation to Rick’s memory,” Gillis said. “He didn’t take drugs, and he didn’t drink.”
Gillis said he wanted to tell Rypien’s story in more detail, so that his memory stood apart from other tragic tales in the ranks of NHL enforcers. In the past year, former tough guys Derek Boogaard and Bob Probert have passed away. The former was found dead after a deadly mix of alcohol and pain-killer oxycodone, while Probert, who died of a heart attack, was a known substance abuser.
“I’ll do it once I get a plan together,” Gillis said. “If there are others out there who are dealing with [depression]who are not hockey players – and we know there are – and who may be contemplating certain events, than if we can do anything to help them, that’s what we’d like to do.”
During his six years with the Canucks, Rypien took two leaves of absence for reasons that were not specified, but were widely believed to be rooted in his depression. Members of the Canucks front office have said that Rypien was a private person who did not want to address his condition publicly.