NHL slaps Valeri Nichushkin with six-month suspension!

What a major setback this is for the Avalanche and for Nichushkin.

Michael W.

A stunning development has overshadowed the Colorado Avalanche and forward Valeri Nichushkin right in the thick of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The National Hockey League has announced that Nichushkin has been suspended six months without pay and has been placed in Stage 3 of the Player Assistance Program. This announcement came just an hour before he and the Avalanche were scheduled to face the Dallas Stars in Game 4 of their Round 2 series, which Dallas leads two games to one. 

He will be sidelined for the remainder of the postseason and will not be eligible for reinstatement until six months from now, which implies that the earliest he could return to action is November 13 of next season. This would coincide with approximately one month into the 2024-25 regular season schedule, and his $6.125M cap hit won't count against Colorado's books to start the campaign. 

According to Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff, sources report that the Russian forward allegedly failed to pass a recent drug test, the exact nature of which wasn't specified: 

Unfortunately, this isn't Nichuskin's first go-around with controversy. He missed his team's final five games of their Round 1 series against the Seattle Kraken last season after an intoxicated woman was discovered in his Seattle hotel room, during which he took a personal leave of absence. And earlier this season, he missed 22 games after being placed in Stage 2 of the Player Assistance Program. 

With nine goals and an assist for the Avalanche thus far in the playoffs, he'll be leaving a significant void that will require collective effort from his teammates to fill. Additionally, he contributed 28 goals in 54 games during the regular season, ranking as the team's third-leading goal-scoring forward behind Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.

Let's hope that he spends the time that he must now spend away from the game getting the help that he needs and that he can return next season following his suspension having defeated his personal demons. 

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Source: Twitter