Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien was suspended on Friday for six games for grabbing a fan in Minnesota earlier this week.

Rypien, 26, made contact with James Engquist, 28, during the team's 6-2 loss at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night. He was suspended immediately pending a hearing.

Rypien was heading to the dressing room after an on-ice skirmish with the Wild's Brad Staubitz.

"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," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

Bettman apologizes to fan

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman phoned 28-year-old fan James Engquist to apologize for the incident involving Rick Rypien, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Friday.

"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," Bettman said in a release.

"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."

— Associated Press

"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."

The Canucks also were fined $25,000 US, mandatory for any team whose player makes contact with a fan.  

"We respect the league's decision on it," coach Alain Vigneault told reporters. "Rick made a mistake, and those are the consequences, and we'll turn the page and move on.

"It's a very unfortunate incident .… It happened, but it doesn't happen very often."

Rypien, coming off his first full season with the Canucks in 2009-10, will be eligible to return to play Nov. 6 against Detroit.

The fan, identified as James Engquist, told the Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune he said to Rypien, "Way to be professional," before the physical contact.

Engquist also said he was seeking legal representation after the incident.

Later Friday, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Bettman called Engquist to apologize.

Some hockey observers have bemoaned the lack of a canopy at Xcel between the fans and the aisle leading to the visitors' dressing room, a complaint seconded by Vancouver's Ryan Kesler.

"I think it's part of the rink's fault," he said. "The cover should have been pulled, and I don't think we should have access like that to the fans.

"I'm not saying Ryp should have done what he did, but at the same time, you need to take more precautions that way."

The Canucks and Wild meet again Friday night, this time in Vancouver at Rogers Arena.

With files from The Canadian Press