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Ryan Leaf kicked out of drug treatment center

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Ryan Leaf kicked out of drug treatment center

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has been moved from a drug treatment center to the Montana State Prison for threatening a staff member and violating his treatment plan, a corrections official said Thursday.

The former San Diego Chargers and Washington State Cougars quarterback was charged last spring with breaking into two houses and stealing prescription painkillers near his hometown of Great Falls. He pleaded guilty in May to burglary and criminal possession of dangerous drugs, and his five-year sentence called for spending nine months in a locked drug treatment facility as an alternative to prison.

Leaf said then that he was looking forward to the treatment at Nexus Treatment Center in Lewistown. But on Thursday, the Montana Department of Corrections released a statement by Great Falls regional probation and parole administrator Dawn Handa that said Leaf will now serve his sentence in the Deer Lodge prison.

``The Montana Department of Corrections terminated Leaf from the treatment program and placed him in prison after he was found guilty of behavior that violated conditions of his drug treatment program. The violations included threatening a program staff member,'' Handa said in the statement.

Leaf attorney Kenneth Olson did not return calls for comment.

Adult Community Corrections Division Director Pam Bunke wrote that Leaf was too great a security risk to leave in a community setting, and that staff had exhausted all resources in keeping him there.

Leaf told his roommate at the treatment center that he wanted to drag a program staffer by his hair, according to the Department of Corrections document approving Leaf's transfer to prison.

Leaf also wrote in three ``Thinking Error Reports'' that he wanted to throw the staffer against the wall and smash his glass into the man's head.

Thinking Error Reports are part of the treatment program meant to help participants monitor their potential problems and help them recognize and cope with the source of their addiction, according to an agency description.

Leaf was moved out of the Lewistown center on Dec. 29. He was held in the Fergus County Jail until he was transported to the Deer Lodge prison Wednesday, said Corrections spokesman Bob Anez.

A disciplinary hearing was held Jan. 9 in which a hearings officer found Leaf guilty of threatening another person or his possessions, according to a summary by the Department of Corrections.

He also was found guilty of wearing clothes he was told not to wear and volunteering his services when directed not to, according to the summary.

Those may seem to be minor charges, but it represented the fourth therapeutic action plan given to Leaf to try to bring him into compliance, the report said.

When Leaf was served papers for the hearing, he was ``less than cooperative,'' according to the report.

``He got angry, swore at staff, refused to sign off on the witness form and threw the hearing notification papers on the floor,'' the report said.

Leaf will remain in the state prison until at least June 30, when he becomes eligible for parole, Anez said. That does not mean he will be released, but he will receive a hearing before the state Board of Pardons and Parole.

James Farren, the district attorney in the Texas county where Leaf was previously given probation in a plea agreement for drug charges in 2010, said his office will move to bring Leaf back to Randall County, where he could stand trial. The original Texas case stems from accusations that Leaf stole prescription pain medicine from a player's home while he was a coach at West Texas A&M.

If Leaf ends up getting prison time from a judge in Texas, he would return to Montana to serve out his time there. He would get credit for his Montana prison time in Texas, Farren said.

Farren said he gave Leaf a chance with the Texas plea deal. The Montana courts gave him another chance, he said.

``It doesn't matter how many chances he gets,'' Farren said.

Leaf was the No. 2 pick in the 1998 NFL draft, but his short-lived pro career earned him the reputation as one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

An investigation began in March 2011, after Great Falls postal workers reported they were suspicious of frequent packages Leaf received by paying COD charges of $500.

Central Montana Drug Task Force officers and Leaf's parole officer confronted the former quarterback and found a container with 28 oxycodone pills inside and another container with a prescription made out to an acquaintance.

The acquaintance said Leaf had entered his home without permission, and Leaf was arrested.

Shortly after his release, two Cascade County residents told authorities they found Leaf inside their home.

The couple reported three different prescription medications missing.

The Great Falls Tribune first reported Leaf's imprisonment Thursday.

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AP writer Betsy Blaney in Lubbock, Texas, contributed to this report.

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Braden Holtby reveals the real reason for his struggles last season

Braden Holtby reveals the real reason for his struggles last season

Last season was by far Braden Holtby’s worst in the NHL.

With a .907 save percentage and 2.99 GAA, Holtby was not even considered the starter for the Capitals heading into the playoffs. While his overall numbers were low, things really spiraled at the start of February.

From February 2 to March 6, Holtby managed a save percentage of only .878 and gave up a whopping 4.32 GAA. It was the worst stretch of his professional career.

There have been many theories as to the cause of Holtby’s struggles. From 2012-13 through last season, only one goalie played in more games than Holtby’s 340. After Philipp Grubauer took over, Holtby thrived in the postseason.

But neither goalie coach Scott Murray or Braden Holtby believe the issue was fatigue.

“You don't want to overuse a No. 1 guy, but [Holtby’s] a guy that has proven he can play some games and be productive,” Murray said.

The real issue, in Holtby’s mind, was the changing culture of the NHL and its focus on offense.

“It's a skill-based league now, not a toughness based league,” Holtby told NBC Sports Washington. “I see that in the league trying to take players out that play a physical game. It's hard. It's strange for us that grew up kind of loving that game because of the toughness and the heart that it took and different ways to win games. It's hard to see that kind of softness come through. That's one of those things I struggled with last year and I think you grow up and try and just ignore it and control your own game.”

It’s no secret that the NHL is trying to increase scoring with changes such as making goalie pads and pants smaller and referees calling games tighter leading to more penalties and less physical play. The league’s efforts seem to be working - in the 2017-18 season, the average goals scored per team jumped up by 10 percent.

Here are the average goals per game per team in the NHL from the 2010-11 season through 2016-17:

2010-11: 2.79
2011-12: 2.73
2012-13: 2.72
2013-14: 2.74
2014-15: 2.73
2015-16: 2.71
2016-17: 2.77

In every season during that stretch, the average fell between 2.71-2.79. In the 2017-18 season, however, that average jumped up all the way up to 2.97.

Successful NHL goalies are expected to have a save percentage over .910 and a GAA below 2.50. But what happens when that standard changes? For Holtby, he struggled to evaluate his own performance. He felt he was playing well, but the numbers told a different story.

“That was one of the real challenges last year, especially through the first four months or so,” Holtby said. “We try to evaluate it every game the same based on every play and not how the game is and it felt that, both [Murray], [goaltending director Mitch Korn] and I felt that I was playing better than I had years passed and the numbers just weren't obviously showing that and it became frustrating and that started to creep in my game. That's kind of a main reason why you saw the drop off in February.”

If the issue was not fatigue, however, then why was time off the solution?

According to Murray, it wasn’t.

“It's always good to have rest, but I think more importantly he had to reinvent himself a little bit and reestablish his foundation that got him here in the first place which is a blue-collar attitude,” Murray said. “I'm going to work and I'm going to stick to what I'm good at, my habits and make sure they're good and let some of the outside stuff go. I think that was just as important as rest, kind of that reset button and understanding who he was and what got him there and getting back to that.”

It’s an important lesson that Holtby will have to remember for this season as scoring has jumped up yet again even over last season. In the first month of play, the average number of goals per game per team has climbed to 3.10. Should that trend stick, it will be the first time the average has gone over 3.00 since 2005-06.

“You know there's going to be more goals, more chances,” Holtby said. “Just focus on every play and just leave out the rest because those are things you just can't control. That's just life.”

 

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The goal that no one wanted: Alex Ovechkin gives up hat trick to set up T.J. Oshie

The goal that no one wanted: Alex Ovechkin gives up hat trick to set up T.J. Oshie

Alex Ovechkin had two goals, the puck on his stick and an empty-net yawning. The Caps held a 4-2 lead on Monday against the Vancouver Canucks late in the third period and the win looked all but secured. The only thing still up for grabs was the exclamation point empty-net goal.

Ovechkin took the puck in the defensive zone and weaved his way through the neutral zone. Once he hit center ice, there was only one player between him and the net. The hat trick looked all but certain…until he passed the puck away.

He easily could have taken the puck himself and fired it into the empty yet, but instead he chose to pass it off to T.J. Oshie on the wing.

Oshie delayed, but with the trailing Vancouver players skating into the passing lane, there was no way for Oshie to try to pass it back to Ovechkin and he very reluctantly shot the puck into the net.

When the players returned to the bench, the disappointment on Oshie’s face was clear to see. He wanted Ovechkin to get the hat trick, but Ovechkin wasn’t having it.

After the game, head coach Todd Reirden praised Ovechkin for his leadership.

“He could have easily got in the red and tried to score himself and it wasn’t even a thought,” Reirden said. “He passed right to Osh and Osh couldn’t go back to him and that’s the way it worked out. It doesn’t bother him one bit and I think that’s where you see a different player than maybe you saw three or four years ago that is not focused on individual stuff. He’s doing the right thing and he feels if you do the right thing for long enough, you’re going to get rewarded.

“We were benefactors of that last season with being able to win out at the end. He’s really got a lot of buy-in right now for doing the right thing. I think his leadership is really in the last probably year, year and a half has really gone to a new level.”
 
Reirden saw leadership on the play. Oshie saw disappointment.
 
Ovechkin offered his own explanation for giving up the shot as he said, “Save it for next time.”

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