After it became apparent he wasn't, many intelligent, reasonable people, including (but not limited to) Barry Patchesky of Deadspin, Yankee Canuck of Nucks Misconduct, Nick Costonika of Yahoo! Sports, Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy, Jim Neveau of The Hockey Writers, and Jason Brough of the Kurtenblog pretty much said that Rypien was in the wrong.
Rick Rypien straight up assaulted a fan for heckling and mock-clapping and has since been suspended indefinitely, awaiting NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell to administer his customary random punishment.
But one Toronto scribe, fresh off his public indictment of James Wisniewski, one who hates sports and entertainment so much that it's a wonder why he became a sportswriter, has jumped to the defense of Rick Rypien.
"I find it fascinating that many who were willing to exonerate the Wiz feel Rypien should get hammered. Interesting standards."
"But if u let a guy off so easily for what Wiz did, how is grabbing a guy's shirt so bad, exactly?"
"All these tough guys who demand fighting in the game now suggest shirt-grabbing is assault."
"A minority of fans are jerks and pretend tough guys who love to abuse players from a distance. I don't feel any need to protect them."
"It's just this perception that all fans are innocents and deserve protection doesn't quite square with reality."
"It's kind of like Twitter. really. People can be so brave, so tough, so threatening from a distance under the veil of anonymity." [ed. note: I think he's referring to the fan being anonymous in this instance]
"So the Philly dude who fell into the box with Domi, he deserved to be protected? Domi shouldn't have touched him?"
"Fan safety? Really? You honestly believe that fan was in danger of anything?"
"All these folks so irate about Rypien must still be upset about Sundin getting only 1 game in '04 for throwing stick into stands."
I guess this means that if you go up to Damien Cox in public and grab his shirt and shake him viciously, he won't mind.
Although the one fan, who escaped unscatched, isn't making it any easier to like him as he is apparently ready to press charges the bottom line is that athletes shouldn't do that, in any sport. An arena shouldn't have to put guardrails everywhere players are within striking distance. Every now and then you get some douchebags like the fan in Detroit who ran onto the court to punch Ron Artest, but this instance wasn't that. Very likely the guy had a few beers, knows that it's dumb to pick a fight with Rick Rypien and mocked him a little because the score was 5-1 and Rypien looked like a goof going after Brad Staubitz.
Damien doesn't absolve Rypien of blame, but he does seem to give a heck of a lot to the fan. In Damien's world, the fans don't show up to sports games. They are too loud and noisy and you can't hear player chatter.