Attack by Rypien hockey 'no-no'

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:45 PM ET

DETROIT — Brad Stuart is as low-key and soft spoken of a player as you’ll find in the NHL.

Still, the Detroit Red Wings defenceman has received his share of abuse from fans and, at times, wanted to get at the perpetrators.

However, Stuart, like pretty much everyone around the NHL, was in disbelief to see Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien get into an altercation with a fan in Minnesota during Tuesday night’s clash against the Wild.

“I’m assuming the fan probably said something, but that’s something you can’t do,” said Stuart, who saw the video of the incident. “In the heat of the moment, sometimes you lose control, but as professionals, we’ve got to know where that line is and not go over it regardless of what somebody might say.

“It’s easier said than done, but it’s something you’ve got to be prepared to do.

“That’s a no-no, especially nowadays. You’re not going to get away with that.”

Rypien has been suspended indefinitely by the league and will reportedly have a hearing Friday.

Some fans do provoke players, although that doesn’t appear the case with Rypien.

The Canucks enforcer was heading to the team dressing room after an on-ice melee. A fan, identified by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune as James Engquist, was beside the walkway from the bench to the dressing room and applauding Rypien’s banishment, although it was because he was serving a penalty longer than the time remaining in the period.

Engquist told the Star-Tribune he said, “Way to be professional,” and Rypien grabbed him.

“It’s a situation you don’t want to see arise, ever. And you never want that interaction with fans that closely,” said Flames forward Brendan Morrison, who was a teammate of Rypien’s in Vancouver during the 2007-08 season. “Although he didn’t really do anything to the fan — he grabbed him but probably scared him more than anything, not hurt him — you’ve got to ignore them.”

Morrison saw the incident on TV as he readied to go to sleep late Tuesday night when the team arrived in Detroit from Nashville.

“I was watching ESPN, and any time they show hockey, it’s not a nice goal. It’s ‘Let’s get to the stuff not so good for the game,’ ” he said, echoing a complaint many throughout the hockey world say. “Off the ice, (Rypien) is the calmest guy, the nicest guy, and he’s really quiet. A lot of guys who go on the ice flip the switch, and he’s one of them.

“He has a tough role, shows up every night, battles, competes and works hard, and obviously was fired at that moment, but I’m sure it’s something he regrets.

“It’s too bad it happened.”

For Rypien. For the NHL.

“I’ll leave it up to the league to deal with that. Something will be done,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “That can’t happen in a game, and I’m sure there will be some kind of ruling on it, shortly.”

Sutter was asked whether he’d ever become involved with a fan.

“Not in the NHL,” he said with a wry grin that made you know a story was going through the memory banks.

“I know that leaves it open, but not in the NHL.

“(Fans are) allowed to say what they want. You hear things, but a few minutes later, you don’t know what the person said. You’re so focused on the game.”

At least almost all the time.

Stuart, the former Calgary Hitmen, knows one time he came close to snapping.

“I had a beer thrown at me one time when I was in the penalty box. I was pretty mad, but the glass is 10 feet high, so there was nothing I could do,” he said.


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