In mid-April of 2014, then-Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ryan Malone was arrested on charges of cocaine possession and driving under the influence. Two months later, the Tampa Bay Lightning used their second compliance buyout on Malone, who had one more year left on his deal at a $4.5 million cap hit.
Earlier this week, Malone joined the New York Rangers for informal skates as his agent worked on the terms of a new contract with GM Glen Sather. Today, the team announced it signed Malone, which is being reported as a one-year, two-way contract that would pay Malone $700,000 at the NHL level.
Malone's best seasons came with the Pittsburgh Penguins and in his first four years with the Tampa Bay Lightning. A power forward who was solid around the net and on the power play, Malone was a regular 20-plus goal scorer and reached a career-high 51 points in 2007-08 with the Penguins. But those were his best days. Over the past two years, Malone managed only 11 goals and 23 points in 81 games. Last season, Malone missed time with an ankle injury.
As for the charges from April, Malone is still dealing with the aftermath. When Malone joined the Rangers earlier this week, the New York Post's Larry Brooks updated us on Malone's situation.
Malone, a 10-year NHL veteran who spent his first four seasons with the Penguins before going to the Lightning, pleaded no contest last month to the DUI charge while agreeing to a pre-trial diversion program on the drug charge. The felony charge of cocaine possession will be dismissed if Malone successfully completes the program.
A well-placed source told The Post that Malone — who has been placed in Stage Two of the NHL/NHLPA’s Substance Abuse/Behavioral Health Program — has been cleared by the league to sign a contract. The Post also has been told Malone is not likely to face league discipline in the form of a fine or suspension, though he may have to meet with commissioner Gary Bettman and/or deputy Bill Daly to receive an official go-ahead.
In August, Tampa Bay Times writer Joe Smith obtained documents from the night Malone was arrested. At the time, the 34-year-old Malone said he was shocked when the officer found a bag of cocaine in his back pocket.
When a Tampa police officer pulled a bag of cocaine out of Ryan Malone's back pocket during an April 11 DUI arrest, the then-Lightning wing appeared stunned.
"Oh my God," he told officer Andrew Visser.
Malone, 34, waived his Miranda rights and told Visser he didn't know where the 1.3 grams of cocaine came from, according to discovery documents the Tampa Bay Times received Tuesday through a public records request.
Malone told Visser he didn't believe the officer planted the drugs on him, according to the documents, but he was "baffled" because he was wearing the same jeans for three days.
"I asked where it came from," Visser wrote in his report. "And he said he was just shocked."