A spectator near the boards grabs a player and the player retaliates by swinging his stick at the spectator. Should a penalty be imposed for such actions?
Yes. A game misconduct penalty must be assessed to the player. Rule Reference 626(c).
Even though the spectator initiated the violence, players are expected to control themselves at all times. In this situation, the player could be expected to use a reasonable amount of force to get away from the spectator, but as soon as the player takes any retaliatory measures with his stick, arms or legs, the game misconduct penalty must be assessed. The Referee must make a written report in detail to the proper authorities.