The Buffalo Sabres were expecting big things from Ryan O’Reilly after they acquired him last month. What occurred in Ontario late last week was not exactly what they had in mind.
According to the Ontario Provincial Police, O’Reilly drove his Chevrolet pickup truck into a Tim Hortons donut shop in Lucan, Ontario early Thursday morning and immediately left the scene, driving a short distance before abandoning the vehicle.
The 24-year-old was apprehended by police and, on Monday, was charged with driving while impaired and failing to remain at the scene. He reportedly had a blood-alcohol level over the legal 80 milligrams, which carries a 90-day suspension of his driver’s license.
The incident is a black eye for the Sabres, who are counting on O’Reilly to be one of their centerpieces as they continue their rebuilding process. The club also added goaltenders Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson, forwards David Legwand and Jamie McGinn and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo this offseason. They also selected top prospect Jack Eichel with the second overall pick in this year’s draft.
Sabres fans are eager for the debut of Evander Kane, who was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets last season but did not play in Buffalo due to injury.
O’Reilly, who is scheduled to appear in court in London, Ontario on August 20, is the third hockey player to run into legal trouble since the start of the 2014-15 season — a theme that is becoming a problem. Los Angeles defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested for domestic violence in October and missed the remainder of the campaign while former Kings teammate Jarret Stoll was nabbed for drug possession in April.
How the Sabres deal with O’Reilly will be interesting to see. General manager Tim Murray released a statement via Twitter but did not shed much light the situation.
“We are currently in the process of gathering more information and will have no further comment until we have spoken with all parties involved,” Murray said.
Not wanting to deal with backlash from the public, O’Reilly has since deleted his Twitter account. He’ll have much more to worry about should he be convicted, as the charges against him would bring a total of a maximum six-month jail sentence, a maximum of $3,000 in fines, seven demerit points on his license and a maximum three-year suspension of his driving privileges.
He also could receive fines and a suspension from the league and may even land himself in the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program as a result of his actions. What’s more, the driving while impaired charge could prevent him from working in the United States, where the majority of Buffalo’s games will be played.
O’Reilly has dug himself quite a hole during his brief time as property of the Sabres. How he and the team deal with the situation will be interesting to observe.