NHL opens season with handful of players facing off-ice woes
The NHL gave the NFL a run for the headlines for the wrong reasons in the offseason.
Though their transgressions didn’t generate the same negative attention as Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson or Greg Hardy, several hockey players had trouble with the law. From Patrick Kane to Mike Richards, each case was handled differently. Some players got second chances and a couple lost their jobs.
Some of the NHL players who have had off-ice issues recently:
PATRICK KANE: A three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, Kane has been the subject of a sexual assault investigation in Buffalo, New York, his offseason home. Kane said he has done nothing wrong and expects to be exonerated. He has not been charged. The Blackhawks have stuck by the four-time All-Star and he was on the roster for the season opener against the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
MIKE RICHARDS: A former Philadelphia Flyers captain and two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Los Angeles Kings, Richards was charged with possession of a controlled substance in Canada in August. The case has been put off until Dec. 8. The Kings terminated Richards’ contract in late June, after his arrest, claiming the underachieving forward committed a ”material breach” of its terms. He had five years remaining on a 12-year, $69 million contract the Flyers gave him in 2008. The NHL Players Association filed a grievance to contest the termination and Richards remains a free agent.
RYAN O’REILLY: Shortly after signing a $52.5 million, seven-year contract extension with the Buffalo Sabres following his trade from Colorado, O’Reilly charged with impaired driving and failing to remain at the scene on July 9. Police say a green pickup truck was driven into the side of a restaurant in Lucan, near London, Ontario, around 4 a.m.. The case has been adjourned until Oct. 22. O’Reilly was expected to make his Sabres debut at home Thursday.
JARRET STOLL: The 33-year-old center pleaded guilty in June to two reduced misdemeanor charges to resolve a felony cocaine case stemming from his April arrest in Las Vegas. A felony charge of cocaine possession was dismissed. Stoll has completed the required 32 hours of community service. Stoll won two Cups in seven seasons with the Kings, but they didn’t re-sign him after he became an unrestricted free agent. The New York Rangers gave Stoll a one-year contract and he was on the roster for the opener in Chicago, just like Kane.
SLAVA VOYNOV: The former Kings defenseman pleaded no contest in July to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence against his wife. Voynov was suspended by the NHL for the final 76 games of last season and the Kings planned to terminate the final four years of his contract before he decided last month to return home to Russia with his family. Voynov was initially charged with a felony after a disturbing incident with his wife in late October 2014. Voynov accepted a plea deal shortly before his scheduled trial, and he spent two months in jail.
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