Breaking News: Rypien Gets 6 Game Suspension; Canucks Fined $25K

Well, it’s official.

Rick Rypien has been suspended by the NHL for six games following his “assault” on James Engquist of Mendota Heights, Minnesota.

In addition to Rypien’s suspension, the Vancouver Canucks have also been fined $25,000 for the incident.

Now there’s no doubt that some people, including a lot of Wild fans, won’t be happy with this suspension; feeling that it should have been longer and, to be honest, I thought that it should have been about 10 games. But am I disappointed that it wasn’t longer?

Not really, and I’ll tell you why.

First of all, despite the fact that Engquist is “feeling litigious” regarding the incident (again, allow me to repeat my sentiment – man up, buddy), Rypien didn’t actually do any harm towards him. He didn’t throw any punches, he didn’t injure him in any way – he didn’t really do anything more than ruffle up the guy’s shirt. He didn’t “climb into the stands” like some have claimed. He didn’t “pull him over the railing.” He just grabbed him and was pulled away.

Was it stupid? Yes. Was it potentially dangerous? Yes. Did anything come of it? Not at all; unless you count someone threatening to lawyer up as something coming of it.

Second, I don’t know that the NHL really needed to “send a message” here – at least, not to the players.

This isn’t an epidemic. This isn’t something that is taking the league by storm. This isn’t even something that has happened more than a couple times in the last decade. This is an isolated incident of a player getting a little too riled up and taking exception to something that a fan said and he just happened to be able to reach him with his hands as opposed to a water bottle.

A lot of pundits have been placing some of the blame on Minnesota for not having something separating the visitor’s tunnel from the fans (which they do, incidentally, it’s just retracted during the period) and, to be honest, I don’t really think that’s fair. They shouldn’t need to “protect” their fans from violence from the players and this is the first time any sort of incident has been spurred on from not having this protection.

And finally, if the league did need to “send a message,” it will be done through the teams.

Why?

Because Rypien just cost his team $25,000.

Do you really think that the Canucks organization is just going to sit back and not say anything to their players, or impose any fines on their players, whether publically or privately for this?

Do you think that other organizations won’t sit up and take notice and make sure that players know that this sort of thing will not be tolerated?

What the NHL did here is actually something that is quite ingenious. The put the impetus on the teams now to respond.

A suspension of a player like Rypien isn’t going to make a drop in the bucket for the Canucks. While he has his role on the team, and he performs it well, his absence isn’t going to lose them any games. But to fine the team? That is something that sends a message. Not to the players, but to the franchises.

Because the bottom line is that this league is a business. At the end of the day, from an organizational stand point, it’s as much about the profit as it is about winning and losing, and when you hit an organization where it hurts, in their pocket book, that is when you will see significant changes to the league’s culture.

Was I disappointed to see that it was just six games?

A little.

I wouldn’t have thought that ten games was egregious, but I thought that the proper suspension should have been between five and ten games and it was between that – a bit on the light side, but between that nonetheless.

But at the end of the day, this sends a message to the organizations that this won’t be tolerated, not just to the players. And that is what is going to prevent this from happening again.

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