The NHL got it right by giving Rick Rypien a six-game suspension, which is a pretty stiff ban by most standards. And he may have caught a break too because a lot of people though the Vancouver Canucks forward was facing 10 games or more for committing one of the biggest no-nos in pro sport.
Ultimately though, the altercation he got into with a fan who was along the tunnel to Vancouver’s dressing room was much ado about nothing, and that was taken into account. Rypien grabbed him briefly, disengaged and in essence that was it, although for an image-conscious leage, that was well over the line in itself.
So Rypien will lose about 1/12th of his salary and an additional $25,000 in fine for an exchange that was quick, spontaneous and really just plain stupid. In other words, he’s paying a pretty steep price for a brain cramp. And it could cost him more because the fan, James Engquist, has told several media outlets that he is contemplating legal action.
Mind you,Engquist seemed no worse for wear after the episode, high-fiving those around him as he was ushered to another seat. But hey, lots of lawyers have time on their hands. And now Rypien might need one.
So if his suspension doesn’t reinforce the necessity of thinking on their feet to NHL players, that should.