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Varlamov returns to practice, relieved that lawsuit is over

Semyon Varlamov

Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov makes a glove save against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Semyon Varlamov was back at practice Wednesday, his mind at ease after winning a civil lawsuit even if his game remained a bit rusty.

For more than a week, the Colorado goalie spent most of his time in a courtroom as his team took the ice. Now that his civil trial is over, he’s quickly trying to get back into hockey shape to help the Avalanche make a playoff push.

A jury sided with Varlamov on Tuesday in a lawsuit filed against him by a former girlfriend who claimed he beat her during an argument in 2013. Jurors awarded Varlamov $126,608 in damages on an abuse of process claim after his attorneys argued the woman was trying to get a payout from the goalie and the evidence did not support her claims of a brutal attack.

“There’s relief, because it’s been a long time dealing with this,” said Varlamov, who missed three games due to the court proceedings. “I’m looking forward to hockey and focusing on hockey and enjoying the game.”

Varlamov will back up Calvin Pickard on Thursday night when Colorado hosts Dallas. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy wants to give Varlamov a little more time to sharpen his game before leaning on him in net.

Just being back at practice meant a lot to Varlamov, who is 19-12-3 this season with a 2.59 goals-against average.

“It’s not easy to sit there all day long and at the end of the day you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Varlamov, who might start Saturday against Winnipeg. “I’m glad it’s over. I just want to move on.”

The woman sued Varlamov, claiming he knocked her down and stomped on her at their apartment following a Halloween party with the team. Roy testified last week that Varlamov told him the woman began punching him, so he locked himself in a bedroom and didn’t retaliate.

Roy said Varlamov had marks on his upper body, chest and neck.

Prosecutors dropped criminal charges against Varlamov, citing a lack of evidence. And while the civil lawsuit is concluded, her attorney, Olaf Muller, said he plans to appeal the verdict and many of the court rulings leading up to it.

As Varlamov showed up for practice, Roy could sense a weight off the shoulders of his usually reserved goalie.

“It’s pretty amazing to be able to keep the focus the way he did in such a tough period of time in his life,” Roy said. “I have a lot of respect for him. Sometimes, in situations like this, it’s nice to have the support from the organization. The entire organization was behind him from the get-go.”

For that, Varlamov was grateful.

“I want to say thanks to the organization. They’ve been really supportive. All my teammates have been real supportive,” he said. “It’s nice to be back.

“I feel more comfortable when I’m with the team, when I’m on the ice, when I’m playing the game. For me, it’s very hard to sit at home and just watch the game on the TV.”