Casey Cizikas, the Islanders' 2009 fourth-round draft pick, was sentenced to one-year probation and 100 hours of community service in a Brampton, Ontario, court Monday for manslaughter in the death of a 15-year-old in a youth rugby match two years ago.
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Cizikas, 18, was convicted of manslaughter May 28 in the death of Manny Castillo. Justice Bruce Duncan ruled that Cizikas, who was not identified by the court or in Canadian news reports at the time of the incident because he was 16, sought revenge after Castillo put Cizikas in a headlock during a match May 9, 2007. Cizikas lifted Castillo off the ground and drove him down headfirst, according to some accounts.
Castillo died in the hospital two days later from a head injury. In handing down the sentence Monday, Duncan said that Cizikas "did not set out to commit a crime," and that the "finding of guilt" was suitable punishment. The Islanders declined to comment on the sentencing. The team is unsure whether Cizikas, who plays for Mississauga of the Ontario League, will attend this weekend's prospect camp at IceWorks in Syosset.
"He's happy with the result and just wants to turn the page and get on with his hockey career," said Calvin Barry, Cizikas' attorney. "It's just a tragic situation on all sides."
Castillo's father, Manuel, who had initially opposed any criminal charges in the wake of the incident two years ago, said that he blamed poor coaching for his son's death.
"This was not a hockey or rugby incident," he said. "It's about some coaches who don't know how to teach kids."
Cizikas' name was never revealed to the public in connection with the case, but his identity was well known to those in the hockey world and to all 30 NHL teams. He was the 18th-ranked skater among OHL prospects by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau, but the Islanders selected him 92nd overall. Defenseman Matt Clark was ranked 23rd by Central Scouting and went to the Ducks with the 37th overall pick, so there's no telling how different Cizikas' draft would have turned out without the manslaughter conviction.
Barry said there are no restrictions attached to the probation that would prevent Cizikas from coming to Long Island this week. "He's grown quite a bit emotionally these last two years," Barry said. "He's ready to put it all behind him."