The Minnesota Wild players have yet to hit the ice for today’s morning skate, but the word out of Vancouver is that Jose Theodore will indeed make his first start as a member of the Wild tonight. It will be the first time that Niklas Backstrom has sat on the bench this year, other than in the final minute of the Wild’s two regulation losses to Carolina and Columbus.
The even bigger news out of Vancouver is the announced six-game suspension of Rick Rypien for going after a Wild fan on Tuesday night. This issue has been beaten more than a speedbag with accusations of eye gouging from unnamed sources and the lack of admonishment from Vancouver management, so I won’t go into it too much. But I thought he could have gotten six games just for shoving the linesman, let alone going after a fan unprovoked.
The official stance of the Wild organization is not to comment on the Rypien suspension.
Here’s the statement from the NHL: Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien has been suspended six games, without pay, for making physical contact with a spectator during NHL Game #76 at Xcel Energy Center Tuesday night.
The Canucks also were fined $25,000, as required by League policy.
Including the game already served while Friday’s hearing was pending, Rypien will be eligible to return to play Nov. 6 against Detroit.
“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. “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.”
The incident occurred at 13:38 of the second period as Rypien was leaving the ice following an altercation with Minnesota’s Brad Staubitz.
The last time a player was suspended for more than four games for making physical contact with a spectator was March 20, 1982, when defenseman Doug Halward of the Canucks was suspended seven games for an altercation with fans.