ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Vancouver Canucks center Rick Rypien pushed a fan in the team's 6-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
Rypien and Minnesota's Brad Staubitz, who fought in the opening period, were about to square off in the second period before being separated by the linesmen in front of the Wild bench.
As Rypien, who was assessed a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct, was pulled by linesman Don Henderson toward the Vancouver bench, he appeared to push the official.
On his way down the tunnel to the dressing room, Rypien pushed a Wild fan who was applauding at the railing. Rypien was quickly pulled away by teammate Manny Malhotra. The fan was removed from the area.
Rypien was not available for comment after the game, but Malhotra thought the fan "got a little bit too involved."
"There's boundaries that should never be crossed. We're in our area of work," he said. "We're all for the hooting and hollering and supporting your team and saying whatever is tasteful. But as soon as you cross that line and want to become physical with a player then we have to make sure we take care of ourselves. ... We have no idea of what their intentions are."
Malhotra said the league does a good job of having proper security near the benches to keep fans and players apart.
Coach Alain Vigneault said at his postgame news conference that he had yet to see a replay and had not spoken to Rypien about the incident.
Rypien was in the penalty box to start the third period but did not get any ice time. He wasn't on the bench at the end of the game.
"I just sent him to get undressed with a couple of minutes left," Vigneault said.
Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis couldn't comment on possible disciplinary action.
"We'll wait and see how the league views it," he said. "I'm sure there will be a hearing of some sort."
The NHL's rule book provides for the commissioner's office to discipline players who physically interact with fans.
Rule 23.7 states that "Any player, goalkeeper or non-playing Club personnel who physically interferes with the spectators, becomes involved in an altercation with a spectator, or throws any object at a spectator, shall automatically incur a game misconduct penalty and the Referee shall report all such infractions to the Commissioner who shall have full power to impose such further penalty as he shall deem appropriate."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.