The 2010-11 NHL season can already be billed as the wildest one ever.
Since the first puck was dropped back on Oct. 7, the league has not gone more than two days without a fineable or suspendable offence and other not-so-saintly incidents.
The latest - a Tuesday night altercation involving Vancouver Canucks centre Rick Rypien and a fan in a game against the Minnesota Wild. Rypien, who was already assessed a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct and on his way down the tunnel to the dressing room, pushed a Wild fan who was applauding at the railing. Rypien was quickly pulled away by teammate Manny Malhotra and the fan was removed by arena security.
"The question is not whether Rick Rypien will be suspended, but for how long," TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie said on SportsCentre Tuesday night. "There's never any excuse for an NHL player getting involved with a fan. (Rypien) will be suspended, of that there's no doubt."
Rypien's touch-up joins a growing list of 'bad boy' occurrances that have grabbed hockey headlines in this very young season:
On opening night, Raitis Ivanans of the Calgary Flames and the Oilers' Steve MacIntyre got involved in a staged fight with 2:40 remaining in the game and the Oilers holding a commanding 4-0 lead. MacIntyre left Ivanans bloodied and the Flames forward was unable to get up without help.
On Oct. 10, Stars centre Mike Ribeiro was arrested for public intoxication at a Dallas-area eatery after he and three others allegedly got into an altercation with another group of patrons. "I wish there were cameras there and you could have seen what happened," he later told reporters. "I guess a lot of people would have a different opinion about what happened."
The next night, Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson drilled Buffalo's Jason Pominville into the boards from behind, causing the Sabres winger to suffer a concussion. Pominville was taken off the ice on a stretcher and Hjalmarsson was assessed a five-minute major boarding penalty and game misconduct. The league later handed him a two-game suspension. "Everything happened so fast, but I thought it was a hit shoulder-to-shoulder," Hjalmarsson said. "My intention wasn't to hurt him."
On Oct. 13, Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta got into some trouble of his own after being fined for a headbutt on Devils forward Travis Zajac. Ottawa's Nick Foligno forked out $2,500 in fines the next day for a check to the head of Carolina Hurricanes right-winger Patrick Dwyer, and Edmonton's Tom Gilbert received the same punishment for clipping Flames forward Matt Stajan in the head on Saturday.
"Several of these items - Foligno, Gilbert, Doan - are directly as a result of the new blindside rule," explained McKenzie. "New rule, new problems. In past seasons those would not have been infractions."