All posts by Eric Patterson

Predators’ Watson opens up about alcohol, anxiety struggles

Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson opened up about his mental health struggles in an Instagram post on Friday, saying his arrest last year stemmed from a relapse after 23 months of sobriety.

The soon to be 27-year-old voluntarily entered the NHL's substance abuse program after the events that unfolded in June 2018.

"I am currently sober and committed to living a healthy lifestyle so that I can be the father, partner, teammate, and person I want to be," Watson's post read.

Watson - who admitted to dealing with anxiety, depression, and alcoholism since the age of 18 - was handed an 18-game suspension after being arrested for domestic assault.

He pleaded no contest and agreed to a judicial diversion program that would dismiss the charge if he served three months probation and completed treatment and batterer's intervention programs.

Both Watson and his partner Jennifer struggle with alcoholism.

"Jennifer and I are in a good place. We are healthy, happy and committed to our own individual sobriety as well as continuing to strengthen our relationship. We have learned from our mistakes and are excited to move forward in our relationship. We wish only to raise our daughter Olivia in the most healthy and loving atmosphere as we can provide."

The NHL initially suspended Watson for 27 games but an arbitrator reduced the suspension to 18. He was reinstated in November and has six goals and two assists in 28 games with the Predators this season.

Here is Watson's full statement:

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Canada’s Maxime Comtois speaks out after being cyberbullied

Canada's captain Maxime Comtois was the victim of cyberbullying after missing a penalty shot in his team's loss to Finland in the world juniors quarterfinal game.

The Anaheim Ducks prospect took to Twitter on Wednesday to respond to the spiteful comments and thank those who stood up for him.

"Thank you, everyone, for the kind words towards me and my family," Comtois said. "Cyberbullying is a real threat. No one should go through that. Let's prevent it. If you are getting bullied or ever had been please speak up."

Included in those who offered kind words for Comtois was Sidney Crosby, who offered advice to the 19-year-old and said the penalty shot won't "define who he is."

Comtois also wrote a heartfelt message to his teammates and Canadian fans despite exiting the tournament without a medal:

"Playing in the World Junior Championship and representing Canada is a dream to every hockey kid in this country, and it was mine too. Last year, we achieved our goal of winning a gold medal, but we can't say the same this year. However, this is not the end of the line for all of us, rather the start of our careers where we can learn from these types of games in order to advance as an athlete and grow as a person. Myself and my teammates gave their hearts and souls, both on and off the ice, to represent our country to the best of our abilities.

"The three-and-a-half-week process we went through will be one I will remember for my whole life. We grew from a group of hockey players around Canada to a family in that short amount of time. I want to thank each of my teammates for giving their best efforts every night, and the great Canadian fans for being behind us every single game. Especially our families, who sacrificed their holidays to support and be with us during this journey. I am proud to be Canadian, honored to wear the maple leaf on my chest and represent my country on the ice."

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Pettersson exits game vs. Canadiens with lower-body injury

Vancouver Canucks stud rookie Elias Pettersson left Thursday night's game with a lower-body injury after getting tied up with Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi and did not return.

Here's the incident that occurred in the second period:

Pettersson immediately reached for his right knee after getting untangled from Kotkaniemi. He skated off the ice under his own power.

After the game, Canucks head coach Travis Green said he doesn't expect Pettersson to play on Saturday in Toronto, but the 20-year-old likely won't be out too long, according to TSN 1040. Green also added that Pettersson will remain with the club on its road trip.

The Canucks' rookie missed six games earlier this season with a concussion, but he still leads all first-year players in scoring with 42 points in 37 games. He was named to the Pacific Division All-Star team on Wednesday.

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Finland stuns Canada, advances to WJHC semifinal

Finland stunned Canada in the quarterfinals at the world juniors on Wednesday, defeating the defending champions 2-1 in overtime after tying the game in the dying seconds of the third period.

Canada's Ian Mitchell opened the scoring early in the second period and goaltender Michael DiPietro held the door shut until late in the contest.

However, the game began to slip away from the host country when Finland's Eeli Tolvanen banked the puck off Aleksi Heponiemi's leg from behind the goal line, and it snuck past DiPietro with 47 seconds left to force overtime.

Canada was awarded a penalty shot during the extra frame, but captain Maxime Comtois failed to convert. Then, Noah Dobson was gifted a wide-open net, but his stick broke on a one-timer, generating a turnover that led to Finland's game-winning goal.

With their quarterfinal elimination, Canada will fail to medal in the World Junior Championship for the first time ever on home soil, according to TSN's Frank Seravalli.

Finland will play Switzerland - the team that upset Sweden to advance - in the semifinal on Friday.

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Players eligible for All-Star fan vote unveiled

After the rosters for the 2019 NHL All-Star tournament were announced, the players eligible to grab the final spot on each team's lineup through a fan vote were unveiled.

Voting opens on Jan. 3 at 12:00 p.m. ET at NHL.com/Vote.

Here are the players included in the "Last Man In" vote:

Atlantic Division

Position Player Team
F Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
F Jeff Skinner Buffalo Sabres
F Dylan Larkin Detroit Red Wings
F Aleksander Barkov Florida Panthers
D Shea Weber Montreal Canadiens
F Mark Stone Ottawa Senators
F Brayden Point Tampa Bay Lightning
D Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

Position Player Team
F Teuvo Teravainen Carolina Hurricanes
F Nick Foligno Columbus Blue Jackets
F Kyle Palmeri New Jersey Devils
F Anders Lee New York Islanders
F Mats Zuccarello New York Rangers
F Jakub Voracek Philadelphia Flyers
D Kris Letang Pittsburgh Penguins
F Nicklas Backstrom Washington Capitals

Central Division

Position Player Team
F Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
F Gabriel Landeskog Colorado Avalanche
F Tyler Seguin Dallas Stars
F Zach Parise Minnesota Wild
F Filip Forsberg Nashville Predators
F Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues
F Patrik Laine Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division

Position Player Team
F Ryan Getzlaf Anaheim Ducks
D Oliver Ekman-Larsson Arizona Coyotes
D Mark Giordano Calgary Flames
F Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
F Anze Kopitar Los Angeles Kings
F Logan Couture San Jose Sharks
F Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks
F Jonathan Marchessault Vegas Golden Knights

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2019 NHL All-Star rosters revealed

The rosters for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game were announced on Wednesday, the yearly three-on-three event that will take place on Jan. 26 in San Jose.

A fan vote will determine the last player added to each team.

Here are the lineups for each division:

Atlantic Division

Position Player Team
F David Pastrnak Boston Bruins
F Jack Eichel Buffalo Sabres
F Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning
F Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning
F Auston Matthews* Toronto Maple Leafs
F John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs
D Keith Yandle Florida Panthers
D Thomas Chabot Ottawa Senators
G Jimmy Howard Detroit Red Wings
G Carey Price Montreal Canadiens

Metropolitan Division

Position Player Team
F Sebastian Aho Carolina Hurricanes
F Cam Atkinson Columbus Blue Jackets
F Taylor Hall New Jersey Devils
F Mathew Barzal New York Islanders
F Claude Giroux Philadelphia Flyers
F Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
D Seth Jones Columbus Blue Jackets
D John Carlson Washington Capitals
G Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers
G Braden Holtby Washington Capitals

Central Division

Position Player Team
F Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
F Nathan MacKinnon* Colorado Avalanche
F Mikko Rantanen Colorado Avalanche
F Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues
F Blake Wheeler Winnipeg Jets
F Mark Scheifele Winnipeg Jets
D Miro Heiskanen Dallas Stars
D Roman Josi Nashville Predators
G Devan Dubnyk Minnesota Wild
G Pekka Rinne Nashville Predators

Pacific Division

Position Player Team
F Clayton Keller Arizona Coyotes
F Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames
F Connor McDavid* Edmonton Oilers
F Joe Pavelski San Jose Sharks
F Elias Pettersson Vancouver Canucks
D Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings
D Brent Burns San Jose Sharks
D Erik Karlsson San Jose Sharks
G John Gibson Anaheim Ducks
G Marc-Andre Fleury Vegas Golden Knights

* denotes captains

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Sens’ Chabot ruled out Saturday vs. Capitals with injury

Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher confirmed Thomas Chabot will be out for at least Saturday's game versus the Washington Capitals after suffering an upper-body injury Friday night.

Chabot left the game and did not return after taking a hit from New York Islanders forward Matt Martin in the second period. Martin was not penalized on the play.

Boucher added the Sens' top blue-liner is not dealing with a head injury, and a timetable for his return is unknown.

Frustration boiled over during the contest's dying seconds. The teams combined for 38 penalty minutes with less than a minute on the clock, which included a fight between Martin and Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki.

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Bruins’ Backes suspended 3 games for hit on Devils’ Coleman

Boston Bruins forward David Backes has been suspended three games for his check to the head of New Jersey Devils forward Blake Coleman during Thursday's game, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced.

Here's the hit that earned Backes the ban:

The collision occurred during the third period of the Devils' 5-2 road win.

Backes - considered a repeat offender by the league - also received a minor penalty on the play for an illegal check to the head. He will miss the 2019 Winter Classic between the Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium on New Year's Day.

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Stars CEO rips Benn, Seguin: ‘They are f—ing horsesh–‘

Warning: Story contains coarse language

Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites is far from impressed with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn this season, and went on the record Friday with a profanity-laced rant to describe their recent performances.

“They are fucking horseshit, I don’t know how else to put it,” Lites said, according to The Athletic's Sean Shapiro. “The team was OK. But Seguin and Benn were terrible.”

Surprisingly, the comments came after the Stars beat the Nashville Predators 2-0 on Thursday, a game in which Benn and Seguin were held pointless for the second straight night.

“We are a stars-driven league, and our stars aren’t getting it done,” Lites added, urging Shapiro to publish his comments. “It’s embarrassing, and no one writes it. Write it!”

Frustration within the organization first boiled over Thursday morning when head coach Jim Montgomery described the team's first skate back after the Christmas break as "fucking embarrassing."

“These guys are not good enough. They’re not good enough for me, they’re not good enough for the owner, and they’re certainly not good enough for the general manager," Lites continued.

"These guys were signed to big contracts because they were the third- and sixth-leading scorers in the National Hockey League over the past five years. They get their money, we expect them to not be outplayed every game we play in."

Seguin leads the Stars with 32 points in 38 games and has an eight-year, $78.8-millon contract that kicks in next year.

Benn has the fourth-highest salary in the NHL at $13 million (cap hit of $9.5 million) and has 30 points this season.

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Senators’ Anderson to miss at least 2 games with concussion

The Ottawa Senators will be without Craig Anderson for the near future, as the goaltender suffered a concussion before the Christmas break and will miss at least two games, general manager Pierre Dorion announced Thursday.

Anderson has started in 30 of the Senators' 37 games this season, posting a 14-13-3 record and 3.58 goals-against average. He was pulled in his last start against the New Jersey Devils after allowing five goals in two periods.

The Senators play the New York Islanders on Friday before returning home to face the Washington Capitals the next night.

Ottawa recalled goalie Marcus Hogberg from the AHL's Belleville Senators to fill Anderson's spot.

Dorion also announced defenseman Justin Falk suffered a concussion before the break and won't play this weekend.

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