Former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone appeared in a Tampa court Tuesday in to address DUI and drug charges stemming from an April arrest. Malone pleaded no contest to the DUI charge and agreed to a pretrial diversion program on a drug charge in the hearing according to the Tampa Bay Times.
By accepting the pretrial intervention, his felony charge of cocaine possession will be dismissed if he successfully completes the program's requirements – which are similar to those already outlined by the NHL.
As part of his DUI punishment, Malone will have his driver's license suspended for six months and must complete 50 hours of community service.
Malone was recently bought out by the Lightning and remains an unrestricted free agent. The 34-year-old is a 10-year veteran of the NHL, having also spent time with his hometown Pittsburgh Penguins.
He was arrested on April 11 after being pulled over for running over a curb. Malone refused a field sobriety test, but was later submitted to a blood alcohol test and was found to have a BAC of 0.112. A Tampa police officer also found 1.3 grams of cocaine in Malone's pocket. According to the arrest report, Malone was “baffled” by the officer's find.
Malone remains an unrestricted free agent and his agent recently told the Tampa Bay Times that multiple teams were interested in signing Malone.
The charges are obviously serious, but considering the court ruling will allow Malone to get help, it may have been for the best. If he can get back on track personally, there may be hope for him to resume his career in the near future.
Malone has played in 641 NHL games over his career and has registered 370 points. The Pittsburgh native was also a member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey Team that won the silver medal at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.