Habs forward dekes charges

SUN WIRE SERVICES

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

No charges will be filed against Montreal Canadiens forward Tom Kostopoulos from an incident with police outside a Tampa night club on Feb. 11, the Tampa Tribune reported yesterday.

Kostopoulos was arrested last week and accused of resisting a police officer, a misdemeanour, in an early morning dispute outside the Whiskey Park club.

A charge against rookie defenceman Ryan O'Byrne for felony grand theft for allegedly stealing a women's purse is still pending, the report said, quoting a news release from assistant state lawyer Pam Bondi.

Bondi said Kostopoulos wrote a letter of apology to the officer and "agreed to continue to perform the many hours of community service work that he does in his community."

Kostopoulos and O'Byrne were arrested at about 3 a.m. outside the club after the team held its annual rookie dinner.

A woman told police her purse was missing. Police said O'Byrne was later seen holding a purse and a woman's cellphone outside the club.

GM WEARS HONOURS WELL

Canadiens GM Bob Gainey will take time out from his duties tonight to accept a hockey player's highest honour -- having his sweater number retired by his team.

Gainey's No. 23 will be lifted to the Bell Centre ceiling in a ceremony tonight ahead of the Canadiens' game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He will be the 14th player to have his jersey immortalized by the 24-time Stanley Cup champions.

"I have had the chance in the last few years to see people, some of whom I played with and some I didn't, who have been honoured in the same way, so I'm thrilled," Gainey said.

Gainey was a dominant defensive left winger in his 16 seasons as a player from 1973-74 to 1988-89, all with the Canadiens, for whom he served as captain from 1981 until his retirement.

He won five Stanley Cups, as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs in 1979.

The Frank Selke Trophy for the NHL's best defensive forward was created with Gainey's unique skills in mind and he won the first four from 1978 to 1981. He scored 239 goals and had 262 assists in 1,160 regular season games.

SABRES FEELING THE HURT

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo Sabres C Michael Ryan will miss a few weeks because of a groin injury, and coach Lindy Ruff is concerned about several others -- including Thomas Vanek -- who missed practice yesterday.

Without identifying the injuries, Ruff said he's uncertain whether Vanek and fellow forwards Derek Roy, Jochen Hecht and Paul Gaustad can play tonight when Buffalo hosts the New York Rangers.

C Tim Connolly, who has bone spurs in his hip, is expected to return against the Rangers after being held out against Toronto. He will need off-season surgery. F Maxim Afinogenov, who's missed 23 games with a groin injury, resumed skating, but has not been cleared for contact.

STASTNY BACK IN LINEUP

The Colorado Avalanche activated F Paul Stastny from the injured reserve list, making him available for last night's game against the Coyotes in Phoenix. Stastny has missed the past 15 games after having his appendix removed on Jan. 17. The 22-year-old is Colorado's leading scorer this season with 49 points (17 goals, 32 assists) in 46 games.

HUNTER GETS 5-YEAR DEAL

The New York Islanders signed F Trent Hunter to a five-year, $10-million US extension yesterday. The 27-year-old was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Hunter has 32 points in 62 games this season and 157 points, including 69 goals, in 306 NHL games, all with New York.


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