- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

CLARENCE CENTER, N.Y. (AP) - With his voice cracking and hands shaking, former NHL player Matthew Barnaby apologized for his “bad decisions” after pleading guilty to four violations connected to a drunken-driving arrest that got him fired from ESPN.

“I’m going to do my best, take the proper measures to make sure this does not happen again,” Barnaby said Tuesday evening, following an hour-long appearance in the town court in Clarence in suburban Buffalo. “I take full responsibility for everything that I’ve done.”

Barnaby then took a deep breath before issuing a vow to do better.

“I promise _ my kids, my family, my friends. I promise I’ll make them proud, this community proud,” he said, as his eyes welled with tears while making a brief statement to reporters outside the courthouse.

“That’s all,” he said, before joining his attorney in walking toward his attorney’s SUV and being driven away.

The former hockey analyst pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, refusing a breath test, driving with unsafe tires and failing to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of his address change.

Judge Michael Powers sentenced Barnaby to 100 hours of community service speaking to local school children, alcohol abuse counseling and $1,950 in fines and surcharges.

Barnaby was arrested not far from his Clarence home in the early morning of Dec. 5. That’s when Erie County sheriffs found him behind the wheel of a Porsche Cayenne that had damage to its front end and causing sparks because it was missing its front tire.

Barnaby had his license revoked after failing field sobriety tests and refusing a breath test.

Erie County Assistant District Attorney Kelley Omel said sheriffs have since found what they believe to be the missing front tire. It was discovered near an Interstate-290 exit ramp approximately nine miles from where Barnaby was arrested, Omel said.

A fifth charge of leaving the scene of the accident was dropped because there was no evidence linking Barnaby to causing any other injuries or damage.

The veteran of 13 NHL seasons was fired by ESPN less than a day after he was arrested, ending a four-year career as a hockey analyst for the cable network.

The 38-year-old Barnaby is from Ottawa, Canada. By reaching a plea agreement, Barnaby avoided a potential one-year jail term for DWI, which could have jeopardized his status in the United States.

In issuing his sentence, Powers explained why he elected against imposing a jail term. The judge noted this was Barnaby’s first alcohol-related driving offense; that Barnaby took full responsibility, and Powers took into account how that could affect his U.S. residency status.

Referring to Barnaby as “a lucky man,” Powers added: “I think you have a lot to offer this community.”

Story Continues →