Malone enters written not guilty plea
Lightning wing Ryan Malone, facing charges of DUI and cocaine possession, had a written not guilty plea entered Monday at his arraignment in Tampa.
Malone, 34, who filed a waiver of appearance for his arraignment in April, was not at the hearing, nor did he have to be. His next court date will be July 7. His attorney, Wes Trombley, has declined to comment.
Malone was arrested April 12 in Tampa and charged with cocaine possession (police say they found 1.3 grams in his back pocket) and DUI (police say he had Breathalyzer blood-alcohol readings of 0.112 and 0.116, well above the 0.08 at which someone legally is considered impaired in Florida). The drug charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail, the DUI charge six months.
Malone's status with the Tampa Bay Lightning is in question, as the Times reported on Saturday, with the veteran a prime compliance buyout candidate. The league buyout window is from today through June 30, with the Lightning able to avoid Malone's $4.5 million cap hit for next year by paying two-thirds of his $2.5 million salary spread evenly over two years.
Malone and his agent have declined to comment, but he realizes it's a possibility. And general manager Steve Yzerman, speaking in general about Malone last week, appeared open to all options.
"Obviously, injuries he's had — some serious injuries over the past three, four years since I've been with the organization — have limited the number of games that he could play," Yzerman said. "It does take its toll on a player. We're taking everything into consideration for the offseason in improving our team, and we're looking at all different (options), whether it be the draft, free agency, trades, buyouts. We'll take it all into consideration."