Colorado Avalanche defenseman Sam Girard has announced he is entering the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. On Friday night, Girard opened up about his mental health struggles and alcohol abuse.
Girard released a statement through CAA, the agency that represents him, and said he was dealing with untreated anxiety and depression. Those issues led to problems with alcohol abuse, and Girard knew that he had to get help.
"I have made a proactive decision to take care of my mental health, and will be entering treatment for severe anxiety and depression that has gone untreated for too long and led to alcohol abuse. Taking care of your mental health is of the utmost importance, and I encourage everyone to speak up and seek help should you feel like you need it. I want to express my gratitude to my wife, family, friends, the club, my teammates, and the fans for their patience, understanding, and continued support."
Girard will now go into the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, which allows players a private way to get the necessary help issues like mental health and addiction.
"You're in the limelight, so I think it's even more difficult to be able to come out and say you need help. It's not as personalized," Bednar said. "It's not just you and your family. Everyone kind of finds out about it, so it takes more courage.
"We're with him. We completely support what he's going through and his decision to go into the program and get help. You gotta be able to take care of yourself first before you can come help a team. We miss him, and we're excited to get him back at some point."
Now in his seventh season with the Avalanche, Girard has become a staple on the team's blue line. In 426 games with the Avs, Girard has totaled 182 points, and he was part of the team that hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2022.