Rick Rypien’s Poor Judgement (Video)

Published by Mark on Thursday, October 21, 2010 — View Comments

Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien prior to...

Image via Wikipedia

Rick Rypien is not the first NHL player to get involved with a fan, and he may not be the last. Still, it does not excuse his incredible brain cramp on Tuesday night.

By all accounts, Rypien and his Vancouver Canucks were having a tough night at the office against the Wild. About 13 minutes through the second period, Rypien was about to dance with Brad Staubitz for a second time in the game when the officials stepped in, and Rypien looked like he may have shoved one of the linesmen. As things got sorted out, Rypien was assessed penalties including a 10 minute misconduct.

Now, the rink in Minnesota is not properly equipped, unlike most NHL arenas where there are barriers between fans and the tunnel where opposing players walk to the dressing room. It was in the walkway that Rick Rypien stopped, and grabbed at a fan who was behind the rail. Manny Malhotra stepped in and separated Rypien from the fan, sending his teammate down the walkway. Rypien served his penalties and returned to the Canuck bench, but did not get any ice time following the incident.

Post-game, Malhotra commented on the incident, saying: “There’s boundaries that should never be crossed. We’re in our area of work… 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.” Watching the video on YouTube, I can find no evidence of the fan wanting to “become physical”. The fan is actually standing behind the rail, clapping as Rypien leaves the bench. On Wednesday, the fan claimed he said “way to be professional” to Rypien.

Rick Rypien vs. Minnesota Wild Fan Video

Sure, Rick Rypien was obviously pissed off. His adrenaline was going, and he’s mad. His team is down 5-1, the Canucks are not off to the hot start they’d hoped. And he’d just been given a 10 minute break. But to reach out and grab a fan? And then have a teammate suggest that it was a matter that this fan could have or was the one attacking?

I have seen comments on various websites pointing out that buying a ticket does not give you free license to do anything you want. Further, that the fan was moved to another section gives evidence that the fan was the problem. At best, those comments are an attempt to deflect the story away from a player who momentarily snapped. I would imagine the fan was moved due to the fact that a) the seats were still accessible by other Canucks players, and b) that Rypien himself would have to walk by in the third as he returned from his misconduct penalty. So, what option to avoid further confrontation than to move the fan? True, a ticket does not give you free reign. But come on Ricky… you haven’t scored 10 goals in this league, you’re making half a million a year to play a game, and you can’t handle a verbal jab from some punk in the stands? Comes with the territory, same as the cheers from the home crowd.

If I had to put a number on it, I think the combination of abuse of an official  (should the league see it that he did shove the linesman), along with the mildly provoked action of physically contacting a fan in the stands (and the bad PR that comes with it) will get Rypien a 10 game rest. Some will say that’s too much, but consider that Domi was fined for spraying a fan with water (before the fan fell over the glass into the penalty box), or that Mike Milbury’s famous shoe incident got him 8 games (after a teammate was actually assaulted by a fan). But this is 2010, not the late 1970s, and I don’t think the brass will tolerate this kind of thing.

As Manny said… there are boundaries that should never be crossed.