With the fan now named, and his comments on the record with Russo, the public sentiment has turned bitter toward the fan, James Enquist. Most people are saying that they feel the threat of legal action is weak, that he needs to get over it, and that he is just out for a quick buck.
I don't know his motives. I feel I would not sue if in his place, as to me, it seems petty. However, I'm not him. I have never been grabbed by an NHL player, so I cannot tell you how I would respond, to be honest. However, continuing the investigation, there are those on the net and on Twitter saying that he was not assaulted. This, from those in Toronto and Vancouver, and around the world that have such an intimate knowledge of Minnesota law.
I thought it might be helpful to lay out just what Minnesota law says. Keep in mind... I am not, repeat NOT, a lawyer.
First off, Minnesota differentiates between assault and battery when it comes to a civil charge. If Mr. Enquist chooses to press criminal charges, I have a hard time believing they would stick or not get settled in a minor plea deal. Charges have not been filed, so this is all hypothetical. That said, the crime definition does seem to fit.
There are five degrees of severity according to Minnesota law, with First Degree being the worst, Fifth the least punishable by law. Statute 609.224 reads:
Whoever does any of the following commits an assault and is guilty of a misdemeanor:
(1) commits an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or
(2) intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm upon another.
A conviction brings the threat of 90 days in jail and / or $1000 fine.
Again, I am not a lawyer, and I am not about to interpret the law. However, it seems that Rypien certainly had intent to cause fear, no? I certainly hope is does not go as far as criminal charges, but the law says it could.
As for the civil side, it becomes battery, and then the law gets mush less cut and dry. It becomes a matter for a judge or jury to determine if the case has merit. In a world in which you can sue McDonald's for having hot coffee, and Ryobi for making table saws that cut fingers off, I could certainly see a less scrupulous lawyer taking the case.
If you are reading, Mr. Enquist, I beg you... don't do it. Don't go to court. Not because you can't, but because it just is not the right thing to do.
I truly hope this does not end up in the courts. It is a complete waste of the system's resources, but take a moment and really ask yourself. If it was you, what would you do? How about if circumstance were different? What if it happened in your local grocery store, some employee walks by, you say something snarky, and he grabs you by the shirt. You just going to walk away, or are you going to take issue with it?
Is it different because it is an NHL game, or do real world rules and laws sometimes apply to the games we play?
That's just a few questions you all need to answer honestly, before you go after Mr. Enquist.