The Vancouver Canucks announced in a statement Thursday that they have granted forward Rick Rypien an indefinite leave of absence to deal with a personal matter.
The team stated that they would have no further comment on the matter.
Rypien was not on the ice Thursday morning at Canucks practice while defenceman Kevin Bieksa was pulled aside by general manager Mike Gillis and spoken to at the side boards, away from the media.
The encounter left observers speculating that either one or both Rypien or Bieksa had been traded.
Rypien, who has been made a healthy scratch with regularity recently, was suspended six games earlier in the season for grabbing a fan rinkside after being ejected during a loss to the Minnesota Wild on October 19th.
Two seasons ago, the 26-year-old Rypien took an extended leave for personal reasons. He has missed at total of 157 games since 2006 due to injury, illness, and suspension.
In nine games this season, Rypien has one assist.