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Question of the day: What penalty should Rick Rypien receive for grabbing a fan?

Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun

Rick Rypien of the Vancouver Canucks needs to be suspended and forced to attend anger management sessions. I’m thinking 10 games would give him enough time to reflect on his poor decision to grab a Minnesota Wild fan after Rypien had been tossed from the game.

In looking at the replay, it didn’t look like the fan was doing much more than clapping and it certainly didn’t look like he did enough to warrant being grabbed. But I didn’t get to hear what the fan might have said about Rypien’s momma. And I certainly understand Rypien’s frustration after losing a fight to Brad Staubitz of the Wild and then being pushed around by an NHL linesman.

But athletes totally cross the line when they go after paying customers. Sure, fans can be over-the-top and some should even be escorted out of stadiums or arenas, but let security handle it. In this case, it didn’t look like the fan did much, if anything, wrong.

Rypien is allowed to take matters into his own hands on the ice, not off it. Take a seat.

[Updated at 11 a.m.

Bob Foltman, Chicago Tribune

On Dec. 23, 1979, some members of the Boston Bruins went into the stands at Madison Square Garden and fought Rangers fans. Mike Milbury dispossessed one fan of his shoe and started hitting him with it. For that, then-NHL President John Ziegler suspended Milbury for six games and fined him $500. How times have changed. Now, the NHL frowns upon attacking the paying customers. Tuesday's incident in St. Paul between the Canucks' Rick Rypien and a fan didn't come close to the rumble in the Garden, but expect Rypien to face a far more severe punishment from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Perception is reality, and incidents that the NBA, NFL and MLB can shrug off tend to stick longer when it happens in hockey. So Bettman could, and should, make an example of Rypien. Speculation is that it will be from five to 15 games. I think it may be higher, perhaps from 15 to 20.
 
Here is the link to the Bruins-Rangers fan brawl. It starts at about the 1:50 mark. I can't imagine the consequences, legally and socially, if that were to happen today.]

[Updated at 1:32 p.m.

Joseph Schwerdt, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Upon further review, it appears Rick Rypien’s actions were inexcusable. Hockey obviously is an emotional and confrontational sport, but Rypien’s actions clearly crossed the line. The replay of his attack on a Minnesota Wild fan shows no physical provocation on the fan’s part. Sure, some fans can be jackasses. Some drink too much, scream foul language and toss objects or drinks on the ice. And while no player-fan confrontation is acceptable, it’s understandable in some extreme situations. Who knows what this fan said as he applauded Rypien’s departure from the game? But Rypien needed to lift himself above that, ignore the fan and walk away. The NHL should suspend him for no less than 15 games. And if he does it again, consider a season-long exile. Three strikes and he should be out for good.]

[Updated at 2:42 p.m.

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times

When Vancouver’s Rick Rypien grabbed a fan at a Minnesota Wild game earlier this week he violated a golden rule of business: Don’t manhandle the paying customers.

A suspension of at least 15 games is warranted. And since he’s not a high-paid star -- he’s scheduled to earn $550,000 this season --losing a proportional chunk of his salary will hurt him a lot.

We don’t know what the fan might have said to trigger Rypien’s rage -- and earn 15 minutes of fame, with said fan reportedly seeking legal representation. But Rypien, a well-conditioned professional athlete wearing full gear, has no business putting a hand on anyone but another player. You can make the joke that the NHL needs all the fans it can get and can’t afford to let ticketholders be roughed up, but there’s a serious point here about boundaries and Rypien crossing one that should not have been breached.]

 
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