Police expert: Dustin Byfuglien ‘high on drugs’ during arrest

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Tuesday was a mixed-bag for Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. On the bright side, he earned two assists during the Jets’ 6-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL’s preseason return to Winnipeg. His Tuesday didn’t start out so well, though, as he received four charges related to an intoxicated boating arrest he received on Aug. 31.

A strange detail emerged, however: Byfuglien passed a breathalyzer test at a level of .031 percent, which is less than half of the legal limit. The Winnipeg Free Press obtained documents that might illuminate the issue, though: a police expert judged some of Byfuglien’s symptoms as a sign that he might have been “high on drugs.”

Despite that legal breathalyzer reading, Byfuglien reportedly failed field sobriety tests. He was placed under arrest and taken for further questioning, but refused to provide a sample of his blood or urine, which counts as an automatic offense that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.

Mike McIntyre shares more details from the police report.

“Mr. Byfuglien stated that he had taken a muscle relaxer earlier that day, but that he could not remember the name of the muscle relaxer,” the police report said. “Mr. Byfuglien stated that he takes a ‘handful’ of supplements from 16 or 17 different bottles every day and that he does not know the names of the supplements.”

Byfuglien then refused to give a blood or urine sample, which is an automatic offence by law.

The drug recognition expert noted there was a mysterious “distinct brown stain on his tongue,” which police noted in their report. Police also say his eyes were glassy and showing a “lack of smooth pursuit” which, combined with the other factors, led to a belief he was “under the influence of a controlled substance and was unable to safely operate a watercraft.”

Along with refusing the blood and urine test, Byfuglien faces a maximum sentence of 90 days for the other charges.

The charge of refusing a blood or urine test carries a maximum one-year jail sentence, while the other charges of boating while intoxicated, failing to display proper lights and failing to provide enough flotation devices for himself and three other passengers on the boat carry a maximum of 90 days behind bars.

Byfuglien’s first court date is set for Oct. 21. That might be doable (if a bit of a challenge), as the Jets have a break in between games in Ottawa on Oct. 20 and a contest in Winnipeg on Oct. 22. It’s unclear if he could request that the court dates be deferred until after this season, which was what Nikolai Khabibulin did with his extreme DUI situation (which happened in 2010 but wasn’t resolved until this summer).

Either way, we’ll keep an eye out for updates regarding this troubling situation.

Avalanche reportedly settle with Nieto, avoiding arbitration

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Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.

In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.

Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.

3 KHL players suspended after testing positive for banned substances

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The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced that three KHL players have been suspended after testing positive for banned substances.

Here’s an excerpt from the KHL’s website:

The IIHF has informed the KHL that three players – forward Danis Zaripov (then with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), defenseman Andrei Konev (Admiral Vladivostok) and defenseman Derek Smith (Medvescak Zagreb) – have tested positive for banned substances.

Derek Smith tested positive for a category S6.а stimulant.

Andrei Konev tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant.

Danis Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents.

Zapirov, who was part of Team Russia at the 2010 Olympic Games, has been banned from suiting up in “competitive hockey” until May 22, 2019. Konev will be unable to play until Nov. 19, 2017, while Smith, who is Canadian, will be suspended until Sep. 2, 2018.

Smith, 32, played in 94 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames between 2009-10 and 2013-14.

Report: John MacLean could join Tocchet’s coaching staff in Arizona

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The Arizona Coyotes have a new head coach, but Rick Tocchet still has to fill out the rest of his staff.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the ‘Yotes might be looking to add John MacLean to their coaching staff.

MacLean, 52, spent six years as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils (2002-2009) before becoming the head coach of their AHL affiliate. After one year of coaching in the minors, MacLean was promoted to head coach of the Devils. His tenure didn’t last very long, as he was fired after just 33 games (they were 9-22-2 under his watch).

He spent the following three seasons as an assistant in Carolina, but he was let go after the 2014 season.

MacLean hasn’t been back behind an NHL bench since being let go by the ‘Canes. Instead, he’s served as a hockey analyst on various television networks.

Related:

Tocchet wants Coyotes’ young players to be ‘creative’ and ‘calculated’

Tocchet brings lessons from past mistakes (and successes) to Coyotes

Sabres re-sign Robin Lehner to one-year, $4 million deal

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The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with goalie Robin Lehner, as they inked him to a one-year, $4 million contract on Tuesday morning.

Lehner and the Sabres were scheduled to have their hearing on July 27, but that obviously won’t be necessary anymore.

The 26-year-old played a career-high 59 games in 2016-17. He finished the year with a 23-26-8 record, a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage.

There’s no doubt that he’s a talented netminder, but he’s had his share of struggles when it comes to staying healthy and being consistent. Of course, the team in front of him hasn’t been very good either.

Both of Buffalo’s goalies (Lehner and Chad Johnson) will have something to prove this season because they’re both on one-year contracts. When their deals expire next summer, Lehner will be a restricted free agent again, while Johnson will be free to test the market on July 1st.

The Sabres now have just over $10.9 million in cap space with RFAs Zemgus Girgensons, Nathan Beaulieu and Evan Rodrigues still needing new contracts.

A huge extension for Jack Eichel is also on the horizon, but his new salary won’t count on the cap until 2018-19.