Whatever slur a Minnesota Wild fan may have uttered to Rick Rypien, Francois Beauchemin believes there is no justification for making contact with a spectator like the Vancouver Canucks forward did Tuesday night.
"I saw it this morning," Beauchemin said Wednesday. "I don't know what happened or what the fan might have said to him.
"But there's no excuse. That's one thing that's in the rules -- you can't touch the fans."
Asked if he ever had been provoked enough to want to touch a fan, the Maple Leafs defenceman replied: "No."
The NHL announced Wednesday afternoon that Rypien has been suspended indefinitely. While the length of his punishment likely will not come down until Rypien has a hearing with league officials, many are speculating that it will be at least five games.
"I think it's a league rule that you are not allowed to hit fans," Maple Leafs forward Colby Armstrong said, adding that it is imperative for players to have thick skins when spectators start talking trash.
"I remember going into Philly when I was with Pittsburgh, there were fans chirping at us pretty good. It happens all over the place. They support their teams, they love to go to games and they love to have fun."
Leafs coach Ron Wilson cautioned that Rypien should not publicly be "tarred and feathered" until the player's side of the story comes out.
"Everybody's jumping on the "Let's hang Rypien" (bandwagon). No one's heard from him ... so I don't know what happened. He lost his cool and inevitably he'll pay for it. I don't know if fan said anything. Maybe he just looked at him," Wilson said.
"Let's let this poor guy have his day in court."
Having said that, Wilson did not condone Rypien's actions.
"There is no excuse for Rypien. There are two things that you are told at the beginning of the season -- no hitting or contracting the linesmen and no making contact with the fans."