May 21, 2024

Avalanche’s Valeri Nichushkin suspended at least six months

DENVER — Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar mentioned the pregame information of ahead Valeri Nichushkin being suspended for at least six months was not “an excuse” for his group’s 5-1 loss Monday to the Dallas Stars in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal collection.

The Avalanche have misplaced three straight video games since coming again to win the collection opener, with the Stanley Cup contenders now dealing with elimination.

“We’re not going to use that as an excuse. We can’t. We won’t,” Bednar mentioned. “Again, we treat it just like [Logan O’Connor] — injured, done for the year. You get news like that all the time. You continue to play with the players that you have, and we have the ability to play a heck of a lot better than we did today regardless of any news.”

The information of Nichushkin being positioned in Stage 3 of the NHL/NHL Players’ Association participant help program was introduced slightly greater than an hour earlier than puck drop. No additional data was given about why Nichushkin was admitted into this system.

Avalanche ahead Casey Mittelstadt mentioned that he and some teammates came upon about Nichushkin as they entered Ball Arena hours earlier than they took the ice for pregame skate.

“We’re hoping Val’s OK and hoping for the best for him,” Mittelstadt mentioned.

Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson advised The Denver Post after the sport, “[Nichushkin] made his decisions. That’s all I’m going to say on that. He made his decisions.”

Earlier within the day, Nichushkin was on the ice for morning skate. After the sport, the Avalanche had already eliminated his nameplate from his stall within the group’s dressing room.

A league supply advised ESPN that the NHL/NHLPA participant help program has 4 phases. Stage 1 is the primary in-patient remedy for which there isn’t a penalty. In Stage 2, following a violation of the Stage 1 remedy plan, a participant could be suspended with out pay through the lively section of remedy after which turn out to be eligible for reinstatement.

Stage 3, following a violation of the Stage 2 remedy plan, carries a suspension with out pay for at least six months after which a participant can turn out to be eligible for reinstatement. Stage 4, following a violation of the Stage 3 remedy plan, carries a suspension of at least one 12 months, and reinstatement will not be assured.

Nichushkin will likely be suspended for at least six calendar months, which suggests the earliest he might return can be mid-November.

His absence meant the Avalanche had been with out their main playoff purpose scorer after Nichushkin recorded 9 targets and 10 factors in eight video games.

Bednar adjusted a lineup that was additionally lacking defenseman Devon Toews due to sickness however returned Jonathan Drouin, who had been out since April 20 due to a lower-body harm.

In Saturday’s Game 3, the Avalanche used an aggressive method to manage possession and launch photographs from all angles just for the Stars to attain the primary purpose for a 3rd straight sport en path to a 4-1 Colorado defeat.

On Monday, the Stars had been the extra aggressive group. They outshot the Avalanche by a 16-2 unfold within the first interval and took a 2-0 lead by means of Wyatt Johnston, who on the eve of his twenty first birthday scored lower than six minutes into the second body after additionally scoring within the first.

Dallas pushed it to 3-0 when defenseman Miro Heiskanen‘s shot from the left level beat Colorado goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. A little bit greater than a minute later, the Avs minimize the result in 3-1 when Mittelstadt scored on a purpose assisted by Drouin.

A story of the collection has been how the Stars hold getting early leads solely to have the Avalanche win, as they did in Game 1, or come actually shut, which is what occurred in Games 2 and three.

Mittelstadt’s purpose was as shut because the Avalanche would get. The Stars padded their result in 4-1 off a purpose from Evgenii Dadonov about midway by means of the third, whereas Sam Steel‘s empty-netter with lower than two minutes left made it 5-1.

“Us, as a group, as a whole, we got better than that. That was our worst game of the series,” Bednar mentioned. “It looked like it was a struggle for our guys. It looked like we lacked energy. It looked like we were the really tired team, and they were the fresh team. I don’t have the answer for that. I wish I did.”

Bednar would later describe his group’s four-goal defeat as “atrocious.”

Even for all of the questions dealing with the Avalanche about avoiding elimination, a lot of the eye remained on Nichushkin, as this will likely be his third absence prior to now 13 months.

The 29-year-old Nichushkin’s earlier absence from the Avalanche was in mid-January when he was admitted into the participant help program for undisclosed causes. At the time, it was introduced that he can be out for an indefinite interval.

Nichushkin resumed skating with the Avalanche in late February earlier than returning to the lineup March 8 of their 2-1 additional time win towards the Minnesota Wild.

His first absence away from the Avalanche was in April 2023 when he missed the ultimate 5 video games of a first-round collection that ended with the Avs dropping to the Seattle Kraken. That time, the group mentioned Nichushkin left for private causes. His absence got here after law enforcement officials responded to a disaster name at the group’s lodge in Seattle on the afternoon earlier than the Avalanche and Kraken performed Game 3 of their quarterfinal collection.

A 28-year-old lady was in an ambulance when officers arrived, and medics had been advised to talk with an Avalanche group doctor to obtain extra particulars.

The police report, which was obtained by ESPN, amongst different retailers, mentioned the Avalanche’s doctor advised officers that group staff discovered the girl once they had been checking on Nichushkin. The doctor advised police that the girl seemed to be intoxicated and was too intoxicated to have left the lodge “in a ride share or cab service,” and wanted EMS help.

When the Avalanche returned for preseason camp, Nichushkin advised reporters, “I think we should close it. It’s a new season right now. We have to focus on that.”

A primary-round choose by the Stars in 2013, Nichushkin spent 4 seasons with the membership that drafted him. He scored 23 targets and 74 factors in 223 video games and by no means fairly reached the heights that had been anticipated of a first-rounder.

The Avalanche signed him at the beginning of the 2019-20 season on a one-year deal price $850,000. Nichushkin labored his means from a bottom-six position to turning into one of many group’s most necessary gamers. It led to him signing a two-year deal price $2.5 million yearly in 2020 earlier than he signed an eight-year deal price $6.125 million per 12 months that began at the start of the 2022-23 season.

“I have two thoughts: Yeah, it sucks for our team … but we got to go play way better than we did today,” Bednar mentioned. “There’s nonetheless 20-plus guys in that room that care and that need to win, and that’s what we have now to deal with.

“And the second one is I’ve gotten to know Val as a person. … I want what’s best for him. I want him to be happy and I want him to be content in his life whether that’s with our team or not with our team. I want the best for him and his family.”