Large crowd expected to remember NHLer Rick Rypien at funeral this weekend

BLAIRMORE, Alta. – A large crowd is expected in the picturesque Crowsnest Pass in southern Alberta this weekend at the funeral of NHL tough guy Rick Rypien.

The body of the Winnipeg Jets forward was found in his home earlier this week and police have classified his death as not suspicious.

Rypien’s agent confirms a public service is planned for Saturday at an arena in Blairmore, Alta.

The Lethbridge Herald quotes Rypien’s stepmother, Nola, as saying she doesn’t know how many plan to attend, but the family is expecting a full house.

Rypien grew up in the Crowsnest Pass and called the area home.

The 27-year-old, who struggled with depression in recent years, had signed with the Jets this off-season after six seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.

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His death came as a shock. Many who knew him said they thought he had turned a corner. They said he was looking forward to playing for the newly relocated team.

Rypien is the second NHL tough guy to die in the off-season

Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard, 28, died in May due to an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.

The deaths have led NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to suggest that the league review its substance abuse and behavioural health program.

Rypien and Boogaard both spent time in the program, which is run in conjunction with the NHL Players’ Association.