Cherry Hill Courier-Post
Published 7:26 AM EDT Sep 27, 2018
Philadelphia Flyers forward Jori Lehtera has been questioned by police in his home country of Finland about a cocaine ring, according to a report from the Finnish news service MTV.fi.
“We will be investigating the situation,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Courier-Post in a statement through the league’s public relations staff, “and will have no further comment pending the completion of that process.”
A Google translation of the Finnish report says Lehtera, 30, is one of 23 suspects in the case of two kilos of cocaine that started being spread last January.
“We have spoken with Jori Lehtera and the league office regarding the reports out of Finland,” general manager Ron Hextall said, “and will reserve any further comment on the matter at this time.”
Lehtera has denied having committed a crime, according to the report. Seven people are in jail in Finland and the translated report says police expect the investigation to expand and that police have also seized 650,000 Euro (roughly $762,000) worth of jewelry and valuables.
It’s unclear whether Lehtera was up front with this information when he reported to camp or whether it blindsided the Flyers when they heard about it early Wednesday morning.
“I don’t know any details, so there’s nothing to comment on,” Hextall said. “No comment.”
That was also his answer when asked whether Lehtera was still on the Flyers’ roster, where he was still listed on the team's website as of 10 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Lehtera, who has one year left on his contract at a salary cap hit of $4.7 million , had three goals and eight points in 62 games last year for the Flyers. Because of the strong performances of Corban Knight, Jordan Weal and Mikhail Vorobyev in training camp, Lehtera has been battling to keep his roster spot and appears on the bubble less than one week before rosters are due to the NHL.
If the Flyers were to waive Lehtera and send him to the American Hockey League, pending whatever the NHL decides, they would save $1.025 million against the salary cap. But unlike most of the last decade, the Flyers have plenty of salary-cap space.