From the NY Times Slap Shot blog:
It would be nice to talk about the game for a change because as Ted
Kulfan in The Detroit News observed today, “Suspensions, bad
behavior and illegal hits have been the rage the first few weeks of the
The controversy du jour is incident from Tuesday, in which the
Canucks’ Rick Rypien attacked a fan at the Xcel Energy Center during a
road game against the Wild, which most hockey fans have seen by now. It
was a rare hockey highlight on ESPN’s SportsCenter, ensuring another hit
to the league’s image among non-hockey fans, who rarely are exposed to
all that which makes the game great.
Of course, hockey is often its own worst enemy, as the contrast between
the two game telecasts reveals. Here’s how the episode was seen on
Minnesota’s Fox Sports North in which the announcers recognize Rypien
has crossed the line (video) and here it is from Sportsnet Pacific which puts all the onus on the
arena and the spectator and excuses the player (video).
The NHL On TSN panel last night examined the incident (video) and
Craig MacTavish, who was involved in a couple of infamous episodes,
including this one as a Bruin in 1979 (video– he’s number 32 in the famous Mike Milbury shoe beating incident), excuses Rypien because the area behind the bench is
unsecured, the fans get “eyeball-to-eyeball” with the players and
coaches and “it threatens your manhood.” For some reason — most likely
the emotions that accompany a hard-fought game — simply ignoring a
non-participant who mouths off is not an option for MacTavish.