Spitballin’ on Kesler’s injury, Luongo zingers, and Sedin marine trivia

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few topics that deserve mention.

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Rick Rypien memorial defaced by Justin Bieber fan intelligentsia

We passed the first anniversary of Rick Rypien’s death just two months ago, on August 15. In that year, the former Canucks winger has been anything but forgotten. Despite playing only 119 games in a Canucks uniform, Rypien left an indelible impression on the city of Vancouver, one that his death has only deepened. Kevin Bieksa and the Canucks launched Mindcheck.ca, a website where visitors struggling with mental health issues like Rypien’s can get connected to support early and quickly, and that site quietly became a provincial resource back in January. Ryp’s death was hardly in vain.

But Mindcheck isn’t the only lasting tribute to Rypien. There’s also the column outside of Rogers Arena that still bears messages from the impromptu memorial Ellen Ransford and other fans put together after Rypien took his life. While many of the construction paper cards, posterboard signs, flowers and whatnot are gone, the writing on the pillar has remained untouched.

That is, until Justin Bieber came to town last night. Brace yourselves.

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Spitballin’ on nothing, nada, and zilch

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

Normally, Spitballin’ is used for the above purpose: to quickly run down the many things that have happened in a short space of time. Right now, however, nothing is happening. At all. In fact, there’s so much nothing happening that it boggles the mind, necessitating a Spitballin’ feature to cover it all. Here is all the nothing that is happening right now that you need to know about:

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Canucks for Kids Fund helps launch Mindcheck.ca in memory of Rick Rypien

One of the main reasons I appreciate the Vancouver Canucks so much is the work they do in the community. Whether it’s large donations like those made by the Sedin twins to BC Children’s hospital or helping to build a playground at a school in Burnaby, the Canucks are constantly and personally involved in charity work around the city of Vancouver and province of British Columbia.

On Tuesday, the team announced that the Canucks for Kids Fund (CFKF) is helping to launch Mindcheck.ca, a resource website to increase awareness and understanding of mental illness. The website will be part of the legacy of Rick Rypien, who passed away last August after a long struggle with depression.

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While the return of Ryan Kesler to active duty may have slightly overshadowed all other Canucks news, the focus tonight pre-puck-drop will be on remembering a fan favourite who passed before his time. Rick Rypien will be honoured this evening in a pre-game ceremony, including a 7-minute video tribute. The tribute will evidently not be televised, but will be viewable live on Canucks.com.

There’s little need to retell Rypien’s story in this space. Iain Macintyre’s article on Kevin Bieksa’s relationship with Rypien is as revealing and heartbreaking as it needs to be and the stories from around the Canucks’ organization are a fitting tribute. The website started in his honour funded by a donation from the Canucks to help youth deal with mental-health issues is a marvelous gesture, as Rypien wanted his story to help others battling with depression.

I don’t even want to talk strictly about his ability to fight, though he was one of the most exciting pugilists to play for the Canucks and even turned my wife, a late convert to hockey, into a fan of fighting.

Instead, I’ll always remember Rypien for the moments of promise that seemed to materialise out of nowhere.

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Here’s an unfortunate incident that will likely cause you to shake your head: the Toronto Star has come under fire for an unfortunate error in their August 16 report on the passing of Rick Rypien in which they misquoted Gillis referring to Rypien — whose struggles with mental illness are now coming to light — as “crazy”.

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Absolutely awful news from Coleman, Alberta this evening, as Rick Rypien was found dead in his home by a family member. The RCMP has declared the death unsuspicious; News 1130 is reporting that Rypien took his own life. There are no words. What follows is a pathetic attempt to say something about a tragedy over which there is seemingly nothing profound to speak.

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The Vancouver Canucks forwards present an interesting conundrum. Despite leading the league in goals scored, employing two Art Ross trophy winners, a Selke winner, and should-win-the-Selke-but-won’t-because-the-criteria-are-ill-defined player, the Canucks were let down in the playoffs by a fourth line that couldn’t hold their own and a lack of scoring from their second line. Losing Mikael Samuelsson, their fourth-leading scorer in the regular season, and Manny Malhotra, who would have allowed Maxim Lapierre centre the fourth line instead of the third, to injury heading into the playoffs can, perhaps, be blamed for these two areas, but there is certainly a sense that some improvement is necessary.

So what should Mike Gillis do with his forwards that are heading into unrestricted free agency? PITB is here to tell him. And you.

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“I’ve never been more excited about hockey, now that I have this beard.” Canucks news comes fast and furious, and sometimes we find ourselves playing catchup. Thankfully, the Dreaded Two Goal Lead–often called “the worst lead in hockey”–is super easy to come back from. Everybody knows it’s a guaranteed death sentence for those that hold [...]

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