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Avs forward Valeri Nichushkin was suspended for at least 6 months an hour before Game 4 against the Stars

Avs forward Valeri Nichushkin was suspended for at least 6 months an hour before Game 4 against the Stars

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nishushkin has been suspended for at least six months without pay and placed in Phase 3 of the league’s Player Assistance Program ahead of Game 4 Monday night of the series. Second round series With Dallas.

The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association announced the news about an hour before the start of the game with the Stars. It’s the second time this season he’s been on the show. Stage 3 means that Nichushkin has violated the terms of the program.

The 29-year-old Russian forward will miss the rest of the postseason and at least the first month of next season.

His teammates heard the news as they arrived at the rink Monday night before a 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.

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

“Clearly something is wrong with Fall,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said after the game. “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 more than 20 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.”

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

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“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. I want him to be happy and I want him to be satisfied,” Bednar said. 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 our guys are the same. “We hope 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 was out for nearly two months earlier this season Receive care from NHLPA/NHL Player Assistance Program for Undisclosed Issues. This came in the wake of his absence from the final five games of last season’s playoff loss for what the team explained were personal reasons.

Nichushkin was unavailable for the team from January 13 to March 7 after entering the program. He became 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.

In the first round of the playoffs series Last spring against SeattleNichushkin suddenly left the team with the explanation that it was for personal reasons. His absence began after officers responded to a crisis call at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle before Game 3. A 28-year-old woman was in an ambulance when officers arrived, and paramedics were asked to speak with the Avalanche team doctor to gather more details.

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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.

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.