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Canucks Host 12th Annual 'Hockey Talks' Game

On February 27th, the Vancouver Canucks hosted their 12th annual ‘Hockey Talks’ game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The theme of this night focuses on mental health awareness, as well as honoring the legacy of former Canucks player, Rick Rypien.

Rick Rypien played for the Canucks six seasons, and it was publicly announced that he had suffered from clinical depression. Following his death in 2011, Vancouver fans assembled a memorial outside of Rogers Center, as well as organizing a fan-lead gathering of 300 people outside of his memorial. The Canucks launched an initiative to help raise awareness for mental illness by launching the ‘Hockey Talks’ program, where teams around the league dedicate one home game a year to discussing mental health.

Courtesy of Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press

Rypien’s passing started the conversation around mental health around Vancouver, then expanded to the rest of the league. Since the launch of this campaign, 18 NHL clubs and 4 AHL clubs have collectively participated in the Canucks tradition. The goal is destigmatize the stereotypes around mental health, spread awareness, and provide access to resources for those who are in need of them.

This year, the Canucks are aiming to reinforce the importance of discussion around mental health, self-care, and encourage those who are in need to seek help. The night began with a ceremonial puck drop from Rick Rypien’s brother Wes and his son Luke.

Courtesy of Vancouver Canucks

Community organizations also were a part of this night. Foundry BC and BC Children’s Hospital’s Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre played an active role in this evening. Along with this, the Canucks also provided a ‘Wellness Corner’ in the arena, where fans visited and learned more about mental health, as well as finding resources to share and use.

The community initiative around this program is very strong for the Canucks, as they have also made a donation of $10,000 to Foundry BC, as well as Kid’s Help Phone.

The Canucks players guided the conversation around mental health before the game as well. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov sat down with Wes Rypien, and discussed the importance of ‘Hockey Talks’, and how mental health can affect a player’s ability to have their mind right while playing hockey. Zadorov discussed his own mental health issues, and talked about how he used to have panic attacks early in his career, and how he began seeing a psychiatrist. Zadorov said, “I think this is real important as well, because when your mind is right, that’s where you play your best hockey.” Zadorov also discussed enjoying the moment, keeping your head down, and continuing to do what you love. For him, and for many others, its coming together to enjoy hockey.

Courtesy of Vancouver Canucks

The initiative and honoring that the Canucks do every year for Rypien starts the conversation around mental health a little more each year. With projects like this, the importance of mental health and reaching out when needed is emphasized even more. The stigma around mental health in hockey is lessened by the discussion around it, and the Canucks and NHL do an amazing job each year making sure these conversations are had.

Edited by: Jessi Dworkin

Social Media Content Created by: Audrey Pearsall

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