National Hockey League players are now going to think twice before getting physical with fans. Rick Rypien, of the Vancouver Canucks, learned the hard way, after receiving a six game suspension on Friday. The Canucks were fined $25,000 by the NHL for Rypiens actions.
Rypien had fought Brad Staubitz, of the Minnesota Wild, in the first period. The two were about to drop the gloves again but were separated by the referees. Rypien was able to get a punch in. He was then handed a four minute double minor for roughing and a ten minute game misconduct.
On his way to the locker room, Rypien encountered an applauding Wild fan, James Engquist. That is when things got physical before teammate Manny Malhotra pulled him away from Engquist. Malhotra believed the fan “got a little bit too involved.”
“There’s boundaries that should never be crossed. We’re in our area of work,” he said. “We’re all for the hooting and hollering and supporting your team and saying whatever is tasteful. But as soon as you cross that line and want to become physical with a player then we have to make sure we take care of ourselves. … We have no idea of what their intentions are.”
I am going to have to agree with Malhotra. When a fan gets in your face you have no idea what is going to happen. No matter what Engquists intentions were, Rypien needs to be ready to defend himself. It may have seemed like a overreaction from the replay, but we do not know what words were exchanged or what sparked everything.
There have been many different situations similar to this one. Examples would be Ron Artest getting into it with some fans while in Detroit or Lagarette Blount at Boise State. However, I heard rumors that there were some racial slurs that took place in the Blount incident. If that is the case, than I am all for what Blount did. For me at least, I have no problem with someone doing what they need to do when being attacked with a racial slur(s).
However, in certain situations there is such thing as overreacting. I do not know what sparked Rypien, but some things you just need to let go in one ear and out the other. It is a part of being professional. I cannot say exactly what Rypien did was right or wrong due to lack of information of what happened.
Basically I believe that there are certain situations where you do what you need to do and others where you need to be professional. I do not think I will ever know the truth of what happened between Rypien and Engquist. With all the information that I know about the incident, I think that the right actions were taken. Rypien is suspended for the next six games and Engquist was tossed from the facility.