Tag: fan attack


Fan attacked by Rypien not happy with suspension, gets call from Gary Bettman

While we’ve heard from just about everyone concerning the six-game suspension handed out to Canucks forward Rick Rypien, the person we’ve yet to hear from about it is the fan he went after. 28 year-old James Engquist is his name, and while you may not have heard from him already, he’s been talking about potentially pressing legal action in the matter against Rick Rypien.

As frivolous as you might find that to be, he’s speaking out again today in the wake of the action taken against Rypien and he’s not exactly pleased with the league’s decision as Michael Russo of the Star Tribune finds out.

“In a real-world situation, at my job, at your job as a columnist, if you were do what that person did in your job place, I think minimally what would happen – minimally – you would be fired from your newspaper, your beat writing job. And this is Mr. Rypien’s career, this is his job, he’s being paid to represent the NHL, and they feel to take a two-week break off without pay and come back to work is satisfactory. But as far as the real world goes, that person would be held accountable as far as the law and just as a company in general, that person would probably be fired.”

That’s right, Engquist would like Rick Rypien to be fired. Are we sure there’s no one in public relations in Minneapolis or St. Paul that would like to do some pro bono work, because if anyone needs it right now it’s James Engquist. At least Engquist is getting some of his concerns addressed now.

When he complained that he hadn’t heard anything from the Wild or the NHL or the Canucks about what happened the other night, he’s heard from someone now. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reached out to him personally to try and calm the waters that divide them.

“He said, ‘Sorry about the events, and players should never ever put their hands on a fan.’ He said he’d like to offer me tickets to a game and dinner, and I thought that was very nice of him. I mean, what do you say at that point. You’re talking to the Commissioner of the NHL. I thought it was really respectful for him to give me a call. He’s a very classy man.”

Game and dinner with the commissioner, all jokes aside here, is a pretty sweet deal. Not everyone gets to meet with the head of the league and take in a game with the guy. As for the jokes, you have to wonder who’s getting punished more severely here, Rypien or Engquist. Come on, we can’t resist a cheap dig.

As for how his life has been since coming out against Rypien and for becoming a shining example for tort reform in legal circles, Engquist says that harassment from people not wearing an NHL uniform is at an all-time high.

“I’m getting phone calls from Canadian radio stations, even at work,” he said. “Basically even going out in public. I’ve gotten a lot of hate emails. I’m definitely saving all of them for records purposes.”

He has to understand that the amount of attention he’s getting from this is partially his own doing. He didn’t need to talk to anyone about what happened and he certainly didn’t need to make his possible intentions of taking people to court public either. Wagging his finger at his harassers now will only continue to make life difficult for him. We’re not pro-harassment here because, let’s face it, he was brought into the public eye forcibly, but we might suggest a public relations class for Mr. Engquist once it’s all said and done.

Rick Rypien suspended six games for assaulting fan; Canucks fined $25,000


Judgment day arrived for Canucks forward Rick Rypien and the sentence for going after a fan during a game in Minnesota this week is stiff as he is suspended for six games. As part of the suspension, the NHL fined the Vancouver Canucks $25,000 as well. The game Rypien missed against Chicago the other night counts towards his suspension and he’ll be able to return to action on November 6th against Detroit.

It’s safe to say here that we were assuming the punishment would be a bit more severe considering how ugly this whole thing played out, garnering national attention for a league where getting major exposure is still an issue. Having folks who aren’t major fans of the NHL thinking that this might be “typical” of the NHL isn’t quite the impression I’d be eager for them to have.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman issued this statement about Rypien and his suspension:

“Prior to each season, all clubs and players are advised that under no circumstances are club personnel permitted to have physical contact with fans, or enter, or attempt to enter the stands,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We hold NHL players to a high standard, and there simply is no excuse for conduct of this nature. Fortunately, this incident is not typical of the way NHL players conduct themselves and is not typical of the way Mr. Rypien had conducted himself during his career.”

Reading between the lines of what Commissioner Bettman is saying here is that since Rick Rypien doesn’t have a history of being a reckless twit on the ice, that means he gets to skate by on a mere six-game suspension. Overall, this is a very ugly public relations nightmare for the NHL. The last time we had one of those, it involved Sean Avery gathering the media to slander his old girlfriend. Avery got a six-game suspension for that as well, not to mention counseling.

Does this now mean that the standard is set at six games if you completely embarrass the NHL? Apparently so, because telling fans that they don’t really have a vested interest in making sure that when they buy a ticket they won’t run the risk of being assailed by the players doesn’t seem to stand out to the league. I’m not looking to make Rick Rypien into everything that’s wrong with the NHL here, but the league pooh-poohing this with a relative slap on the wrist seems foolish.

Lots of folks want to give him a break because the fan he went after decided to go on his own self-destructive, public-support-killing PR campaign but that completely misses the point of what the issue is. The issue here is telling the fans that when they buy a ticket to a game that as long as they stay within the rules of the arena that they’ll be safe and they don’t need to worry about having an adrenaline-jacked up player coming after them in their seat.

The league isn’t condoning what Rypien did, but they’re sure not hammering the point home in saying they’re disgusted by it either. Like it or not, the NHL has now made it so that grabbing a fan in the stands counts as much as hurling insults on camera and for the league, that might be the worst PR out of all this.

Fan grabbed by Vancouver’s Rick Rypien speaks, instantly loses everyone’s support

Rick Rypien

You all knew this would be coming eventually, but the Minnesota Wild fan who was grabbed by Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien last night has spoken out about being the focus of the irate player’s attention. If you missed it from last night, Rypien went into the stands to grab a fan who was mock applauding him as he headed to the locker room during the second period of Vancouver’s 6-2 loss to the Wild in Minnesota.

Today, Wild beat reporter Michael Russo was able to get a hold of the fan, 28 year-old James Engquist, to ask him about what happened last night and what, if anything, they plan to do legally-speaking. Suffice to say, a lot of fans are not going to enjoy Engquist’s line of reasoning on matters.

“This is a crazy incident. I’ve seen a lot of hockey in my day, and I’ve never seen someone actually come into the stands and assault a fan,” said Engquist.

Engquist said he is “definitely seeking legal representation. … I was assaulted, that’s just the bottom line.”

Engquist said he didn’t receive an apology from the league, Rypien or the Canucks. He said he hasn’t heard anything from the Wild.

Now, I don’t want to say that Engquist doesn’t have a case to be made here, he does. Opting to pursue it, however, comes off really ugly for the regular fan that saw what went down. By the book “assault” is the correct term, by what you see on camera, however, and by the view of the court of public opinion the fan had his jersey grabbed while team officials grabbed Rypien and Engquist’s brother pulled him back from the fracas.

Filing a law suit on the matter, however, swings the opinion from being strongly against Rypien for crossing the boundary between players and fans to being against Engquist for seemingly ridiculous litigation. Engquist and his brother were moved to different seats along the glass after the incident occurred, giving them a slight upgrade on their seats behind the Canucks bench. Looking to cash in on what was ultimately a scary matter smacks of greed.

All of a sudden, Rick Rypien doesn’t look like the only one behaving badly here. The Wild and Canucks could both help to step in a diffuse the situation by playing the game a bit nicer PR-wise with Engquist and bend over a little backwards for the guy, but ultimately, Engquist going the route of filing a law suit reflects very poorly upon him.

Unfortunately for everyone, this matter isn’t over yet. Rypien is scheduled to meet with NHL officials in New York City on Friday to discuss what his punishment will be. I’m sure the talk of a lawsuit against him and the NHL will be brought up and factored into what his actions have done for everyone involved. Bad PR, in this case, is bad PR for everyone.