Avs star Valeri Nichushkin was suspended for at least 6 months an hour before the team lost a playoff game

DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche are without high-scoring forward Valeri Nishushkin for the remainder of the playoffs — again.

The 29-year-old Russian was suspended for at least six months without pay and was placed in Phase Three of the league’s Player Assistance Program just hours before the Avalanche lost Game 4 of the league. Second round series With Dallas on Monday night.

This is the second time this season that he has participated in the program. Stage 3 means Nichushkin has violated the terms of the program, which offers help with everything from mental health needs to substance abuse. Nishuskin will miss the rest of the postseason and at least the first month of next season.

The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association announced the news about an hour before kickoff. His teammates heard the news as they arrived at the rink before a lackluster 5-1 loss to the Stars pushed them to the brink of elimination. They were outscored 16-2 in the first period and trailed the best-of-seven series 3-1.

The co-leader in Stanley Cup Playoff goals has been suspended for at least half a year. Reporter Gethin Colebaugh has more.

Game 5 will be played on Wednesday in Dallas. Nichushkin leads the team with nine playoff goals this season.

Details of Neshushkin’s struggles have not been revealed. In the first round of the playoffs series Last spring against SeattleNichushkin left the team abruptly and missed the final five games of the postseason.

“Clearly something is wrong with Val,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Yes, it’s bad for our team. We have to turn the page. We have to play better than we did today. There are still 20-plus players in that room that care and want to win and they are here. That’s what we have to focus on. It’s hurting our team.” There is no doubt he is a great player.”

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Bednar wasn’t willing to walk the walk when asked if Nichushkin had let the team down.

“I’ve gotten to know Val as a person and I’ve gotten to know him as one of our teammates and I want what’s best for him,” Bednar said. “I want him to be happy and I want him to be content in his life, whether it’s with our team or not with our team. I want what’s best for him and his family. I think all of our guys are the same. Hopefully he finds some peace and gets help.”

Stars coach Pete DeBoer echoed those thoughts.

“On the human side, you feel for any athlete who deals with these issues,” De Boer said.

Nichushkin missed nearly two months earlier this season, from January 13 to March 7, to… Receive care from NHLPA/NHL Player Assistance Program for Undisclosed Issues. He was the second Avalanche player to enter the program during the regular season, following defenseman Samuel Girard, who said in November that anxiety and depression led to alcohol abuse. Gérard returned in mid-December.

Last spring, Nishuskin’s absence began after officers responded to a crisis call at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle before the third game. A 28-year-old woman was in an ambulance when officers arrived, and paramedics were asked to speak with the Avalanche team doctor. To collect more details.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press from the Seattle Police Department at the time, said the avalanche doctor told officers that team personnel found the woman when they were examining Nichushkin. The doctor told officers that the woman appeared to be extremely intoxicated, was too intoxicated to leave the hotel “for a shared ride or taxi service,” and requested EMS assistance.

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Before the season, Nichushkin dodged questions about the situation, saying only: “I know you want to find something there, but there’s nothing really interesting. I think we should shut it down.”

When asked after the match if he could see a scenario in which Nichushkin and the team could come together at some point, Bednar simply replied: “I have no idea.”


AP Hockey Writer Steven Whyno contributed to this report.


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