The death of Winnipeg Jets centre Rick Rypien on Monday marked the second time this year a young NHL player suddenly passed away. The former Canuck was found dead in his home in CrowsnestPass, Alta. Rypien, who went undrafted out of the Regina Pats, played six seasons with the Canucks. He was also a big part of their farm team, the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League and had recently signed a one-year $700,000 contract with the Jets. Rypien is the second “tough guy” to pass away in this off season. Former New York Rangers forward Derek Boogard was found dead in May. His death was ruled accidental, due to a lethal mixing of alcohol and oxycodone.
Unfortunately, Rypien and Boogard are not the first NHLers to pass away during their careers, as we look back at some players of the league who left us before their time.
Dan Snyder, Atlanta Thrashers
Snyder played as a centre for the Atlanta Thrashers when he was involved in a single-vehicle accident in which he was the passenger. The driver, fellow teammate Dany Heatley, lost control of the car and crashed in a brick pillar and iron fence. Snyder fell into a coma and died six days later on Oct. 5, 2003. He played in only 49 games and tallied 11 goals. Before their relocation to Winnipeg, the Thrashers had named an annual award after him, given to the player that “best embodies perseverance, dedication, and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed.” In the AHL, the Chicago Wolves also have a yearly award given in his honor, the Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award. Likewise, the OHL renamed their Humanitarian of the Year trophy making it the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy. Snyder was only 25 years old.
Yanick Dupré, Philadelphia Flyers
Dupré was a left winger who participated in 35 games with the Flyers over parts of three NHL seasons from 1992 to 1995. After a 16-month battle with leukemia, Dupré passed away at the age of 24. The Yanick Dupré Memorial is given to the Flyer “best illustrates character, dignity and respect for the sport both on and off the ice” as decided by thePhiladelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. A similar award, given in Dupré’s honor, is also presented by the AHL in recognition of a player’s community involvement and service.
Steve Chiasson, Carolina Hurricanes
After the Hurricanes were eliminated from the playoffs in Boston, Chiasson had a fatal car accident on the way home from a team party at the home of teammate Gary Roberts. According to teammates, Chiasson insisted on driving himself despite a blood alcohol content later found to be 0.27. A statue and plaque in his memory stand inMillenniumPark inPeterborough,ON where he was raised. The Hurricanes established the ‘Steve Chiasson Award’ to honor the player who best demonstrates determination and dedication. On July 26, 2006, former Flames teammate Cory Stillman brought the Stanley Cup toMillenniumPark after Stillman won the Cup with the Hurricanes. Chiasson was only 32 years old.
Luc Bourdon, Vancouver Canucks
Bourdon was a defenseman who played 36 NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks. The 21-year-old was killed instantly in a motorcycle collision near his hometown of Shippagan on May 29, 2008, when he hit a tractor-trailer after losing control of his 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and crossing the centre line due to winds gusting to 50 km/h. Bourdon had purchased the motorcycle about three weeks before the fatal accident. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman and Bourdon’s close friend, had planned to buy a motorcycle but decided against it because of the crash. At General Motors Place inVancouver, the Luc Bourdon Wall of Dreams was established to commemorate his memory.
Who knows? They may now be part of a new team, “the Hockey Gods” whom we love to pray to when we need our team to make it to the Finals. May they rest in peace.