Continuing on with our 12 days of Jetsmas brings us to number 11, while there have been a handful of Jets 1.0 players to don the number 11, there’s only 1 player who wore it for the current iteration of the Jets, and he never took to the ice. Rick Rypien
Ask anyone in Winnipeg if they know who Rick Rypien is and you’ll most likely get a ‘Yes’ from them. Hockey fans in the city will recognize him from his time with the Manitoba Moose from 2004 until 2008. While he was never a high scoring player he was by far a fan favorite. Serving as one of the teams alternate captains for his later years with the team.
Going un-drafted out of junior and signing an ATO with the Manitoba Moose in 2004, Rick proved himself in the eyes of the Moose’s parent club, the Vancouver Canucks. Earning an NHL contract in November of 2005. Playing a total of 119 games in his short career, a dream come true for the Blairmore, Alberta native.
In 2011 The Vancouver Canucks parted ways with Rypien and shortly thereafter he signed a 1 year deal with the Winnipeg Jets. Rejoining the organization where he played for many seasons. On August 15th, 2011, just 42 days after signing the contract to return to Winnipeg, Rick lost his battle with depression. His long time friend, and the Jets newly named Assistant GM, Craig Heisinger noted that Rypien had been battling depression for many years previously and often sought out his advice when he was having trouble. Teammate Jason Jaffray had said that while he was aware of Rypien’s mental health he was “a new man and…the happiest [he’d] ever seen him.”
Believe In Ryp: The relationship between #NHLJets executive Craig Heisinger and the late Rick Rypien went well beyond hockey.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) January 31, 2018
Rypien’s death shocked the hockey world, leading to memorials and gatherings at the steps of Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Along with a memorial put up by the Canucks organization to honour Rypien and two other NHL players who had passed away that same summer, Derek Boogaard and Wade Balek. Rypien’s death spearheaded multiple foundations in support of mental health awareness. Mindcheck.ca, a website designed to help young people with mental illness. As well as the Winnipeg Jets own Project 11, providing resources and programs for youths who need it.
His death was a tragedy, but in his wake, Rick Rypien left a legacy of helping those in need when life gets rough.