NHL tough guy Rypien laid to rest

523038.jpg

NHL tough guy Rypien laid to rest

From Comcast SportsNet Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BLAIRMORE, Alberta (AP) -- Nearly 1,000 people remembered Rick Rypien on Saturday in
the arena where the Winnipeg Jets forward played his minor hockey.

Just days after the 27-year-old tough guy died suddenly in his southern Alberta home, a large crowd turned out on a bright sunny day at Albert Stella Arena for Rypien's funeral.

Rypien, who last played with the Vancouver Canucks, died Monday at his offseason home in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, where a police official said a call was answered for a "sudden and non-suspicious" death.

Rypien, who struggled with depression, had signed with the Jets during the offseason after six years with the Canucks.

His death came as a surprise to many who knew him and thought he was on the road to recovery. They said Rypien was looking forward to playing for the newly relocated Jets.

"We were all hopeful," Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said. "We had thought at different times that he had turned a corner and we were making progress but then it would just happen again."

"We had the ability to intervene. We had the opportunity over the past three years to try our hardest to do the best thing. I don't think there's an easy answer to this," he told reporters after the service.

Jets assistant general manager Crag Heisinger knew Rypien from his minor league days with the Manitoba Moose. He signed Rypien to a one-year contract with the Jets.

"The system didn't fail Rick," Heisinger said. "Everybody did as much as they possibly could for him. He did as much as he possibly could for himself.

"It's just nothing could be done at the end. At the end of the day if Rick's happier where he is today we should all be happy for him. Everybody faces challenges. He's no different than anybody else. He fought them like everybody else. It's just in the end the demon depression won out."

Rypien's family remembered him as someone who was gifted athletically but who put friends and family ahead of even his love for hockey.

"My overwhelming question is, why? How could this happen?" his uncle, Allan Rypien Jr., said. "He had a great family, great friends and a great job.

"He fought this disease with everything he had in him. If you knew Rick, he fought with everything he had in him. Unfortunately the disease won the battle."

A number of minor hockey players, wearing Crowsnest Pass Thunder hockey jerseys were
among those in attendance.

An autographed No. 37 jersey from Rypien's time with the Canucks and a poster from his days with the WHL's Regina Pats were part of items scattered among bunches of flowers.

Rypien's former Vancouver teammate Kevin Bieksa was one of the pallbearers. His cousin, former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien attended the service, as well.

The program, with a smiling photo of Rypien in a blue Vancouver jersey, said simply "Until we all meet again."

Rypien is the second NHL tough guy to die during this offseason. New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died in May in Minnesota due to an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.

Notes: A's OF Smolinski sidelined by sore right shoulder

Notes: A's OF Smolinski sidelined by sore right shoulder

MESA, Ariz. — Outfielder Jake Smolinski is dealing with a right shoulder issue that’s keeping him out of games right now.

A’s manager Bob Melvin is hopeful Smolinski might be able to serve as designated hitter soon, but he's having trouble throwing. The issue was bothering Smolinski when he reported to camp.

“It may take a little time,” Melvin said Sunday morning.

Depending on how long Smolinski is sidelined, it could impact his bid to make the club as a fifth outfielder. Khris Davis, Rajai Davis and Matt Joyce are projected as the starting trio, left to right, with Mark Canha likely to platoon with Joyce in right.

**

Melvin finds his catching depth thinning out a bit. Matt McBride isn’t able to get behind the plate because of a sore lat muscle, and non-roster catcher Ryan Lavarnway will be leaving soon to join Team Israel for the World Baseball Classic.

That means Sean Murphy, a third-round draft choice last June, will see plenty of time in early exhibitions. Melvin has spoken highly of the strong-armed Murphy so far.

“We’re a little short, so Mr. Murphy is going to get some opportunities for a younger guy,” Melvin said. “It’s a nice little showcase with him to back up some of these games.”

**

Ryon Healy will draw his first start of the spring, playing first base, Monday against the Giants in Scottsdale. He’s been nursing a sore quadriceps but ran Sunday and is cleared for Monday.

 

Waived by Dallas, Deron Williams intends to sign with Cavs

Waived by Dallas, Deron Williams intends to sign with Cavs

CLEVELAND -- Free-agent guard Deron Williams has cleared waivers and told the Cleveland Cavaliers he intends to sign with them.

Williams, a five-time All-Star, was waived this week by Dallas. He will give the defending NBA champions a playmaker they've needed all season and one LeBron James demanded.

Williams cannot sign with the Cavs until Monday. Cleveland hosts the Milwaukee Bucks that night. The Cavs will be the fourth team for Williams, who is averaging 13.1 points this season.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue can bring him off the bench and also play him with Cleveland's starters to give James and Kyrie Irving rest before the playoffs.

Cavaliers general manager David Griffin didn't make a move at Thursday's trade deadline, but said the team still needed a playmaker. Williams can also back up Kyrie Irving at point guard, a spot the Cavaliers have been trying to fill since the start of the season.

Griffin's previous acquisitions are a big reason the Cavaliers are 8-1 in February. Kyle Korver is shooting 52 percent from 3-point range since being acquired from Atlanta and has made up for the loss of J.R. Smith, who is out until April with a broken right thumb.

Derrick Williams, who is on a second 10-day contract, is averaging 9.8 points in five games with the Cavaliers.

Cleveland has been also looking to add frontcourt depth since Kevin Love had surgery on his right knee earlier this month. Love, who is averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds, said Friday that he plans on being ready for the playoffs.

Free-agent Larry Sanders worked out for the Cavaliers last week and Andrew Bogut is another possibility to join Cleveland. Bogut is expected to have his contract bought out by the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired him from the Mavericks at the deadline.