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Nichushkin enters the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, will be away from Avs indefinitely

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Colorado Avalanche

Jan 10, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Valeri Nichushkin (13) celebrates his goal in the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

DENVER (AP) Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin has entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program and will be away from the team for an indefinite amount of time.

The league and union announced Monday that Nichushkin will return to the Avalanche once he’s cleared by program administrators. No other information was provided.

The 28-year-old Nichushkin becomes the second Avalanche player to enter the Player Assistance Program this season. Defenseman Samuel Girard announced in November that anxiety and depression led to alcohol abuse and to him seeking treatment from the program. Girard returned in mid-December.

Nichushkin missed the game Saturday in Toronto, with Avalanche coach Jared Bednar saying before the game that Nichushkin was “under the weather.” The Avalanche play in Montreal on Monday night.

Nichushkin has 22 goals and 20 assists in 40 games this season. The Russian ia two games away from reaching 500 regular-season contests for his career.

Nichushkin was away from the team in the playoffs last season for what the team explained at the time were personal reasons. He missed the final five postseason games of a first-round loss to Seattle.

His absence started after officers responded to a crisis call at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle the afternoon before Game 3 on April 22. A 28-year-old woman was in an ambulance when officers arrived, and medics were told to speak with an Avalanche team physician to gather more details.

The report, obtained at the time from the Seattle Police Department by The Associated Press, said the Avalanche physician told officers that team employees found the woman when they were checking in on Nichushkin. The physician told officers the woman appeared to be heavily intoxicated - too intoxicated to have left the hotel “in a ride share or cab service,” and requested EMS assistance.

When approached in the ambulance by officers, the woman stated she was from Russia but born in Ukraine. She was transported to Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, according to the report.

In September, Nichushkin deflected questions about his absence from the playoff series. He said he and the team both decided for him to be away for the remainder of the playoff series against the Kraken. Colorado lost in seven games.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl