The NHL Player Assistance Program has been enrolled by forward Valeri Nichushkin of the Colorado Avalanche, the league announced.
The team’s most recent game against the Toronto Maple Leafs saw the 28-year-old Russian sit out, and head coach Jared Bednar stated he was “under the weather.”
With 42 points in 40 games, Nichushkin has had a fantastic season. 52 in 62 games during the Avs’ Stanley Cup-winning season (2021–2022) is his career high.
Although Nichushkin’s admission to the program is officially new, there were rumors that he may have been in an alcohol treatment program following an incident that occurred in Seattle during the previous season’s playoffs.
A severely inebriated woman was discovered in Nichushkin’s room, prompting Seattle Police to be called to the team’s hotel for assistance. The team physician and other nearby medical specialists treated her, but the incident resulted in no charges being filed.
After Nichushkin left the team, Bednar claimed to have kept in touch with him, but he never came back. The Avalanche’s playoff run was ended by the Seattle Kraken in the first round.
General manager Chris McFarland stated of Nichushkin at a press conference on May 9 that “he was a very important part of our team in the past and we hope, that’s our hope, he’s going to be a very important part of our team in the future.”
In response to Denver Post Corey Masisak’s inquiry regarding the Avs’ starting six forward following the Seattle incident, Bednar stated that there was no doubt about Nichushkin going into this season.
“I saw Val (Nichushkin) before I left for the summer from here and he was already doing great after he, you know, took care of himself,” Bednar said on the third of January. “He came back and, I mean, I felt like Val was going to have a huge summer — training, he was finally through all the injuries that he went through, etc.”
It wasn’t until training camp in late September that Nichushkin spoke with the media, and he didn’t say much.
He stated, “We already talked about that, family reasons,” on the opening day of Colorado’s training camp. “I understand that you guys are hoping to find something, but nothing truly captivating is there. I believe it should be closed. Right now, a new season has begun. We must pay attention to that.”
This season, Nichushkin is the second Avalanche player to join the team. After acknowledging he had battled anxiety and depression, which resulted in alcohol abuse, Samuel Girard entered the program and stayed there from the end of November to the beginning of December.