Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Vancouver's Rick Rypien suspended 6 games for grabbing Wild fan

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild pregame skate Updated: October 22, 2010 - 11:44 AM

Good morning from rainy Vancouver, where I'll take a rainy day in Vancouver over sunny days in most cities.

Want to be quick because I just checked into my hotel and need to hustle down to Rogers Arena -- will always be GM Place in my heart -- for the Canucks morning skate and the Wild's optional skate.

The NHL just announced that Canucks forward Rick Rypien has been suspended six games for making physical contact with 28-year-old Mendota Heights native James Engquist on Tuesday night. The suspension includes Wednesday's game at Chicago and tonight's Wild-Canucks rematch.

The Canucks were also fined $25,000, as per league policy. Rypien will be eligible to return Nov. 6 vs. Detroit. Rypien loses more than $18,000 in salary.

“Prior to each season, all clubs and players are advised that under no circumstances are club personnel permitted to have physical contact with fans, or enter, or attempt to enter the stands,” Commissioner Gary Bettman
said in the release. “We hold NHL players to a high standard, and there simply is no excuse for conduct of this nature. Fortunately, this incident is not typical of the way NHL players conduct themselves and is not typical of the way Mr. Rypien had conducted himself during his career.”

Originally I felt Rypien would get 10 games. Then I changed my tune the last few days to 6-8.

Nevertheless, I guess it all wasn't the fan's fault like John Garrett suggested blindly without gathering any facts.

Do I think the league got it right? I don't know. Rypien obviously made a stupid choice and snapped, but I think he quickly realized what he had just done. It's not like he started swinging. I don't know Rypien. I've never interviewed him, so I'm not going to make a character judgment on one mistake. I do know the Canucks beat writers, whom I respect, and they vouch that this is a good person.

And as far as the league punishment, I don't think the NHL had to make some sort of loud and clear statement here with some Ron Artest-like suspension.

This is hardly an epidemic in the NHL. Most NHLers, even when fired up, understand it's completely inappropriate and against the rules to make contact with fans.

I used to cover the Sunshine Hockey League. I saw a brawl a week spill into the crowd. I once got my chain ripped off by a Lakeland Ice Warrior because he saw me down there with a pad and pen taking notes as to which players were punching which fans.

That does not and would not happen in the NHL. Off to Rogers now. Talk to you after the skate folks.

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