Things happen. People lose their cool in the heat of the moment, and things happen.
Unfortunately for Vancouver Canucks' forward Rick Rypien, losing his cool and grabbing a fan at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota last Tuesday cost him a six game suspension and a $25,000 fine.
Everyone has his or her personal opinion about the situation, and the extent of Rypien's discipline. I've heard everything from a three game suspension to the rest of the hockey season.
To me, the ladder is complete blasphemy. In no way do I condone or support what Rypien did, but suspending a first-time offender for the remainder of the year, in October, is beyond excessive.
Personally I think the NHL got the suspension and fine just right. Obviously making any kind of physical contact with fans is unprofessional and also strictly prohibited for players, but Rypien in no way physically harmed the man, who has been identified as James Engquist. He simply grabbed him by the lapel, and shook him once.
Again I'm not condoning his actions, but there have been many similar incidents like this over the years, and Rypien's case doesn't come close to comparing to the likes of Mike Milbury climbing into the stands and hitting a fan over the head with his own shoe, or Tie Domi squirting a spectator with a water bottle, before punching him a few times after he fell into the penalty box.
There is the argument that fans pay money to attend NHL games and should never have to worry about their own well-being, especially from the standpoint of being attacked by a player. But only Rypien and Engquist know exactly what was said beforehand to cause the player to react the way he did, and let's be honest, it could have been a lot worse.
Besides his suspension and fine, Rypien also has to worry about the civil suit Engquist plans on slapping him with. He has already made it public that he plans on taking the matter to court because he was "assaulted."
Hopefully nothing comes of it and the issue can be put to rest.