Saturday morning was shocking for Tampa Bay Lightning fans as they awoke to the news that Ryan “Bugsy” Malone had been arrested early Saturday morning for DUI and possession of cocaine after the team had just beaten the Columbus Blue Jackets and were inching closer to their eventual home ice advantage.
Malone didn’t play in that game nor has he played much lately being scratched for most of the month of March and only getting a hand full of games here and there.
So fans wondered what would happen to their team first, people on Twitter made jokes at the expense of Malone’s predicament, and some debated whether he should be able to play again.
Here’s the situation, Malone needs help, he doesn’t need the snarky tweets or the hate of how he is a bad player. He needs the NHL and the Lightning to help him get back on track for his career, his family and more importantly himself.
Malone’s problems aren’t an isolated incident as more and more information poured in media and fans alike found out that Malone had been driving under a suspended license and had a court date set for that on April 30th, which is a separate incident.
Now for those saying or thinking “He is an a professional athlete, he only gets our sympathy cause he is famous,” that’s the wrong way to look at this. Yes, Ryan Malone makes more than the average drug abuser but he is a part of a group of people that need help more than they need judgment. Just like Malone, many have families and friends who care about them. They may not be a famous hockey player but they and Malone have something in common—their humanity.
According to www.fbi.gov, in 2012 there were 1.55 million drug related arrests with 16.5 percent for heroin, derivatives and cocaine. So yes, Ryan Malone is probably one of the more famous arrests made but clearly the numbers bear out that Malone isn’t the only one.
Are we going to deny Ryan Malone his humanity because he is famous hockey player who has a drug related problem? He isn’t some nameless face person sure, but he is more than just a name on a stat sheet or a back of a jersey. Malone has a family with kids who more than likely look up their dad, who gets to play hockey for a living, imagine what they are going through right now. Their dad, their hero was arrested by the cops and may face felony charges under Florida law.
As for the Lightning, it may seem like Malone’s time in a Bolt sweater is surely done but it affects them as well. Sure, coach Jon Cooper doesn’t feel like it will be a distraction and he is probably right but Malone has friends in that dressing room who are worried about him on some level, so while it may not affect their play or chemistry as he has been out of the lineup but there is some concern for their teammate.
Also, the team’s future decisions will be affected by this as Malone will have to go through the mutually agreed substance abuse program and there is no clear answer as of yet whether he will be on the roster next year, bought out with the remaining compliance buyout or if they will receive cap space. The league ultimately holds the fate of Malone’s career after the legal situation is settled.
Just because someone happens to have a unique talent that pays them a lot of money doesn’t mean when they stumble or falter we shouldn’t care less because there is a built in excuse of “he’s an athlete, or they’re famous.”
Last, I checked famous people are still people and just because they are famous doesn’t mean they put their pants on one leg at a time like everybody else.
Condemn the action sure, but don’t condemn the person.