Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ryan Malone, In Search of Help

I am sure that it is most disconcerting to Steve Yzerman and the other brass at the Tampa bay Lightning to deal with the situation concerning forward Ryan Malone. Last Saturday, clipped a curb making a left turn, and Tampa Bay Police Lieutenant Paul Lusczynski pulled him over. The officer smelled alcohol on his breath, and Malone refused to take a test immediately. At the jail, Malone scored alcohol blood levels of 0.116 and 0.112, above the acceptable limit of 0.08. He was charged with “Driving Under the Influence”. When Lusczynski searched Malone’s pockets, he found 1.3 grams of cocaine. Malone was also charged with possession of cocaine.

The previous Tuesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times, he was charged with driving while under suspension. In recent months, he has been cited for failing to pay tolls, running a red light, and not having proof of insurance. He began the season playing on a line with Steven Stamkos, but he has been a healthy scratch recently. When he did play, he was on the fourth line.

The NHL is keeping its cards close to the vest. Bill Daly, the league VP: “His future playing status, both in the near term and during the playoffs, will be determined in accordance with the terms of our Substance Abuse and Behavior Health Program.” With an annual salary of 4.5 million dollars, there is a lot at stake for Malone.

Understandably, this will be a distraction to the Lightning as they prepare for the playoffs against the Habs. Malone fills a lot of space on the ice at 6’ 4”, and 225 pounds. He has played more than 600 NHL games, and will be 35 this December. He missed much of last season with “lower body” and shoulder injuries. In 57 games this year, he had just 15 points. That is a far cry from his best seasons with the penguins, when he averaged more than 70 points per season. His alleged behavior in this instance reflects on the entire team, and will make things more difficult at this time.

One can only hope that Malone gets the help he needs, clears up the mess that he has made, and resumes his career. For many professional athletes, careers are indeed short. They can run into injury, and a myriad of other distractions.

James Hurst
April 15, 2014

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