Former NHL enforcer Rick Rypien, who died suddenly Monday, had been looking forward to the beginning of training camp, his agent said Tuesday.
Alain Roy, Rypien's agent for the past nine years, told CBC News they sent each other text messages on Saturday and Rypien talked about how much he was looking forward for training camp to start.
The 27-year-old had recently signed with the Winnipeg Jets after several seasons in Vancouver's organization.
"Everybody didn't expect this at all," Roy said. "I feel the worst for his family."
"It's obviously a horrible story," he added. "Right now, I'm still a little bit in shock."
Rypien died in his home in Alberta on Monday. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.
RCMP in Crowsnest, Alta., say they received a call Monday around 12:30 p.m. reporting a sudden and non-suspicious death.
Rypien battled personal issues
Rypien, who battled personal issues throughout his NHL career, played only nine games last season with the Vancouver Canucks. He took an indefinite leave of absence for the second time in three years shortly after a game in Minnesota in October last year.
In that game he got into an altercation with a fan as he was leaving the ice, and the NHL suspended him for six games.
There have been reports Rypien battled depression, but his agent declined to go into specifics.
"As a society, everybody expects whether they're athletes, actors or anybody in the public [eye] to be perfect and sometimes we forget everybody has their own issues to deal with on a daily basis," Roy said.
Played with Manitoba Moose
Rypien did return to hockey in March with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League and said at the time he was glad to be enjoying hockey again.
Roy said that if any good can come out Rypien's untimely death, he hopes it will be more awareness among people in pain or battling issues that they can seek help.
Rypien, who racked up 226 penalty minutes in 119 games over six seasons with Vancouver, had to battle through a lot of physical injuries, Roy said.
But he said both the Canucks and Moose offered Rypien the support he needed.
NHL players took to Twitter to pay their respects — including fellow enforcer Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes.
"Just heard the terrible news about Rick Rypien. One of the toughest pound for pound guys in the league. He had no fear. Sad day."