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Lightning coach: Malone's charges not distraction

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 13, 2014 at 6:37 pm •  Published: April 13, 2014
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper doesn't think left wing Ryan Malone's DUI and cocaine possession charges will be a distraction to the postseason-bound team.

"Ryan is probably a little embarrassed of what's gone on. He made a poor decision, getting behind the wheel when he had alcohol in his system," Cooper said before Tampa Bay beat the Washington Capitals 1-0 in a shootout Sunday to close the regular season.

"But for me, I've watched all the good decisions Ryan Malone's made in his life, and how charitable he's been and what a staple he's been in our community in the years he's been here," Cooper added. "I hope this one instance doesn't take away from that, because he's been a class act for us, on and off the ice."

Malone didn't travel with the team to Washington. It isn't yet known what his status for the playoffs will be. Tampa Bay will host the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, with Game 1 scheduled for Wednesday.

An officer saw Malone's SUV strike a curb after making a left turn from the center lane in the early hours of Saturday, Tampa Police Lt. Paul Lusczynski said. After being pulled over, Malone got out of his vehicle, and the officer smelled alcohol on his breath, Lusczynski said. According to the police report, the officer found 1.3 grams of cocaine in one of Malone's pockets.

"We talked about it as a team yesterday, and it's a real unfortunate thing, but I don't think it was really on too many guys' minds here today with the ... stakes of this game," Matthew Carle said after scoring the only goal in Sunday's shootout.

Malone refused to take field sobriety tests, but a breath test given at the jail recorded blood alcohol levels of 0.112 and 0.116 percent, Lusczynski said. Florida law considers a driver impaired at 0.08.

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