October 19, 2010
At 13:38 of the second period against the Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks enforcer Rick Rypien(notes) was given a 10-minute misconduct following an altercation with Brad Staubitz(notes) (whom he earlier fought) in what was, at that point, an embarrassing 5-1 blowout for the Wild.
One Minnesota fan seated near the tunnel to the dressing room had the nerve to celebrate Rypien's misconduct and gloat about the home team's rout. So Rypien did what any thuggish moron begging for a suspension would do, which is to assault a paying customer:
This is immediately going to draw comparisons to one of the most recent and most famous player vs. fan altercations in the NHL: Tie Domi vs. The Philadelphia Flyers fan back in 2001. But remember: That case involved the penalty box glass giving way when the fan drunkenly attempted to go after Domi, who ended up with a fine but no suspension.
This Rypien thing? He's clearly pissed off as he's yelling at the officials, and all the Wild fan seems to do is clap and chirp at him. For that, he gets Rypien laying his mitts on him. No punches, no visible injuries; but an NHL player violently going after a fan is going to warrant a fine and a sizable suspension -- as long as, ala Domi v. Philly Fan, there isn't something more the fan or fans did to set Rypien off.
Here's a longer video featuring the build-up to the Rypien/fan incident, via YouTube:
What's crazy here is that Rypien was back in the penalty box in the third period, when he should have gotten an automatic game misconduct for the fan incident, via Michael Russo. Rypien didn't have a shift in the third period.
If League already signaled a draconian crackdown on water-bottle squirting at the glass with a taunting fan on the other side, what does a player reaching into the stands in a road arena get?
We'll update this post with more information when it becomes available.