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Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Commish will come down on Rick Rypien

By Pierre LeBrun

Rick Rypien will feel the wrath of the NHL's arm of justice.

One thing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman does not tolerate is altercations between NHL players or personnel and fans.

In April 2009, he suspended New York Rangers coach John Tortorella for a game -- in the playoffs -- for throwing a water bottle at a Capitals fan in Washington. Personally, I didn't think the water bottle heave looked too dangerous, but the playoff suspension spoke to Bettman's lack of tolerance for anything involving the paying public. One playoff game, as we always say, is worth at least five in the regular season.

So if you're Rypien, you better have saved up a few bucks from your $575,000 salary, because you're about to lose a significant chunk of it.

Talk about 30 seconds that Rypien would like to get back from Tuesday night:
  1. At the end of a skirmish with Wild tough guy Brad Staubitz, Rypien gets in a late punch at a defenseless Staubitz, who is being held by a linesman. The punch doesn't look too powerful, but given the next sequence of events, not a good start.
  2. Rypien seems to push or shove linesman Don Henderson near the Canucks' bench before Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault comes over to intervene and get Rypien off the ice.
  3. Poor old Vigneault, who was trying to do the right thing. Next thing you know, Rypien jumps at a Wild fan who was cheering his exit.

That Wild fan is one lucky young man. He could have easily been at the wrong end of a Rob Ray or Tie Domi fan beatdown had Rypien not been pulled off by Canucks teammate Manny Malhotra.

And here's the thing: Rypien is a no-name, rugged checker. The league won't sweat making him sit like it would if Alex Ovechkin hit someone from behind again. It can go to town on this guy.

The NHL's disciplinarian is Colin Campbell, but I guarantee that by 11 p.m. ET, he already had several e-mails from Bettman, if not a phone call. While Bettman usually gives Campbell his space on suspensions, the commissioner will have his say in this one. Guaranteed.