Nichushkin's teammates throw him under the bus after he's banned from NHL for 6 months
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Nichushkin's teammates throw him under the bus after he's banned from NHL for 6 months

It's clear that Val made a HUGE mistake.



In case you missed the news last night, just prior to puck drop in Game 4 of their second round playoff series against the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche announced that star forward Valeri Nichushkin has been suspended 6 months and has been placed in Stage 3 of the NHL's Player Assistance Program.

So... what does all that mean?

Essentially, Nichushkin has been kicked off the team without pay for violating conditions of his release from Stage 2 of the program. In other words... he fell off the wagon.

In fact, NHL insider Frank Seravalli reports that Nichushkin failed a drug test which led to the suspension:

Nichushkin has battled addiction for years, voluntarily entering the NHL's Player Assistance Program for treatment at least twice now. He was unavailable to the team from January to March this season, where it's suspected that Nichushkin was undergoing treatment in Stage 2 of the program. 

As Seravalli points out, Nichushkin left the team last season too after he was found to have fled his hotel room without caring for a 'extremely intoxicated' woman who needed medical attention. Medics were called by team officials and the entire matter was swept under the rug, to be perfectly frank.

It's believed that at that point Nichushkin was moved into Stage 2 of the program.

Description of each phase with consequences for violation:

Now, Nichushkin is entering Stage 3 of the program and will not receive pay for the next 6 months. There's also no guarantee that he'll be reinstated by the team or the league in 6 months' time. Really, it's up to Nichushkin at this point. If he can turn his life around, he'll get another opportunity.

I have to wonder though if that opportunity will come in Colorado, or maybe elsewhere?

It's clear that Nichushkin's teammates are not happy with the situation and they spoke candidly about the situation prior to last night's loss.

Check out some of these comments:

The Avs would go on to lose Game 4 and are now in a 3-1 deficit to the Stars in round 2.

Read below for our earlier report published yesterday evening.

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: Corey Masisak