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NEWS: Nichushkin Back In Player Assistance Program, Suspended Six Months

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The Colorado Avalanche will get a key piece back in the lineup for Game Four, but will lose an even bigger one in Valeri Nichushkin.

Nichushkin, who leads the Avalanche and is tied for the NHL lead in goals scored during the playoffs with nine, will miss Game Four and beyond. I received word earlier today this might be a possibility, but it’s even bigger than what I had heard.

Here is the release from the NHL

“The National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association announced today that forward Valeri Nichushkin of the Colorado Avalanche has been placed in Stage 3 of the Player Assistance Program of the NHLPA and NHL.

Under the terms of the joint program, Nichushkin will be suspended without pay for a minimum of six months and then will be eligible to apply for reinstatement.”

Yes, you read that right. Six months. This is a very big deal. Not only does this impact the current series, but it has massive implications heading into next year. A six month suspension puts him out until November, and you have to imagine the Avalanche may explore other options.

The 29 year old winger missed time earlier this season as he entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. Of course, everyone remembers why he missed time in the postseason last year, and his absence was a big reason why the Avalanche couldn’t get past the Seattle Kraken.

This news comes just hours before Colorado plays a crucial Game Four against the Dallas Stars. We’ll have more time to discuss this and will update everyone soon if more information is made available, but for now, the Avalanche are going to have to rally without one of their top players. I hope that Val can get the help that he needs moving forward.

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EnzoSin

Wtf?? Seriously?

Mark Messier

Val is a head case clearly. Screwed the team worse than Mac

Ken

I don’t see any way they rally around this, but I would love to be proved wrong. Foudy us the only player I would give a top 6 shot to, but no way Bednar would ever do it.

hockeyhead

Evan, this really sucks! I feel bad for Nuke and the Avs and all of us fans. Is it time to cut the cord with Nuke? Can the Avs get out of his contract? He is not reliable!!!! I hope he gets the help he needs. This can’t keep happen in the future!

Avs Fan

I’m not privy to NHL rules, but it makes logical sense that the Avs will be able to cut Nuke without incurring a cap hit or be penalized by his salary.

Jim Stick

I feel sorry for him to a point. For the Avs–they have to move on from him. This is strike 3.

Jon

How do you move on from him? I see him as untradeable. No team would want the risk combined with the contract. Even if they could waive him (it’s not the NFL) I doubt you can do anything while he’s in the program

Jim Stick

That is my question also–can they just release him now without cap ramifications? I can see the first time it comes up a team shouldn’t be able to. But on the 2nd time it is not the team’s fault that the player is unreliable and can’t stay clean. The Avs should not be punished for this. I was hoping that Evan could shed some light on this on what the Avs situation is with this.

Jon

Haha. What the Avs can do will be governed by the CBA and it’s safe to say the average hockey fan is less familiar with the NHL CBA than NFL fans are with that CBA and cap. The Avs aren’t going to make a statement about it but I’m sure we’re about to learn more about it from Evan and other sources than we ever wanted to know…

Glendon Gulliver

Thank you Evan and thank you for reporting facts not rumor. Substance abuse is a terrible disease and not everyone is capable of an easy recovery.

Sasha landprecht

It’s time to trade nuke.

Back to back playoffs he screwed the avs.

dp10

Who trades for a player with an addiction problem?

Andrew Jones

God

Dammit

Jim Stick

What’s the NHL rules Evan? Can they cut him and be totally done with him? Would there be any salary cap ramifications for future years?

Andrew Jones

The Avs cannot “cut” Nichushkin. Best case scenario for the Avs, both parties agree to mutually terminate the contract. There’s no reason for Nuke to do this as it would cost him tens of millions of dollars. Colorado could buy him out, but it’s not very pleasant for the Avs as they would have to pay him 2/3rds of his salary while getting cap penalties for twice the length of the remaining years on his contract: Year 1: +180k (Avs get a discount!) Year 2: -520k Years 3 & 4: -3m Years 5 & 6: -5m Years 7-12: -1.7m Year… Read more »

Joe Cerwinske

Just a massive blow to the team. He’s been arguably our most important player starting with the Cup run, and his absence has been felt every time he’s had to step away. We all love you, Val, and we pray you get the help you need.

Ryan Fessette

Like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not. This is what happens when you ignore a problem and hope it will go away. The way the Avalanche have handled this situation from start to finish has been abhorrent. Ultimately it is the fans that provide a market for an NHL team and the money it generates to pay its players. The Avalanche treated us all like we were unworthy of an explanation a year ago when this all came into the public eye. Not only were we all denied an explanation, but instead treated to two post-season fiascos as a… Read more »

Blake martinez

You sound like an dumba$$. Substance abuse you can’t get fired for and getting treatment you can’t get fired either. Sounds like you need to lay off the pipe and know what your talking about before spewing BS

Aaron Hinton

Blake, show up high to work tomorrow and see if you don’t get fired. You cannot be this naive.

Neil Bergin

Sounds pretty rational to me, Blake. Substance abuse absolutely can get you fired, from most jobs. I’m sick of enablers like yourself who continually make excuses for people. He needs to take some personal responsibility. I hope he can get his addiction problem under control, but not on the Avs’ dime.

Jon

Blake is not enabling Val. You know nothing about when he used, assuming it’s just substance abuse. Different companies have different policies about what you can do on your own time regarding substances. Besides, when they can part ways with him will be governed by the CBA. I’m not an expert on it, are you???

dp10

Yes and no! Supporting him was the right thing to do! But you are also right that the Avs have been sitting in this player purgatory not only with Nichushkin, but also with Landeskog. It needs to be resolved. Their absence without proper replacement is hurting this franchise.

Jon

Besides the fact they didn’t satisfy your curiosity for details what evidence do you have that the Avs let things “languish”. It’s like an HR matter where you work. Would other people in any organization have trust in it if there wasn’t confidentiality? By your logic any customer of yours pays your salary so does that make it right for your company to divulge perhaps a family struggle to your customer if you’re out. Don’t confuse no comment with lying to you.

Golden Boy

This is devastating, Val has let so many people down, including himself.

For the Avs Cup chase this is a huge loss.

More importantly, for Val: please get well. This is the time of reckoning. Please get right. For yourself. For those who love you. Wishing you all good things.

dp10

When the hotel episode happened in Seattle, the first thing that sprung to my mind was that leaked video clip of Kuznetsov with that powdery substance next to him. It really, really sucks for Val and it really, really sucks for the franchise. We will see how the Avs handle this. He has been an absolute force in the post season so far, so it’s not inconceivable that wheels will start to come off this bus. A lot of people will blame Avs management for not moving on from Nuke before the season. But that’s just not what you do.… Read more »

Nathan in Michigan

Does anyone know what could possibly warrant this massive suspension in round 2 of the playoffs ?? What did he do now? Is it cocaine usage, rape, I mean it has to be something , not sure if he failed a drug test maybe? I do agree this hush hush garbage is not producing a healthy environment for everyone including the fans. I bet Mackinnon is red hot right now. Most likely his contract can be terminated for his behavior, but does anyone think the Avs will do so, seeing how good he makes this team when he is on… Read more »

Ray McKigney

just speculating, but since he has been in the player assistance program, he probably had to take a random drug or alcohol test and he came back positive. it is a shame. its disappointing from a fan perspective, but truly hopes he can get the help he needs.

Golden Boy

everyone remembers why he missed time in the postseason last year,

Is “why” the correct word?

hockeyhead

Addiction is a terrible thing. Some people can’t escape its grasp! It is really sad when it destroys peoples lives and affects the people around them. I wish Nuke all the best and hope he can get his life right. I hope people can be kind and forgiving, yet firm and not enabling for him.

Rob Corkran

My guess is a DUI or public drunkenness

Joseph Crotty

Wow, prayers for his recovery.

Charles-Edouard Boivin

Fucking loser…

ZANE

Penguins fan, but love the Avs too due to Sid and Mackinnon. Hope he gets the help he needs but 2 years in a row he’s absolutely screwed the Avs. Hopefully his contract can be terminated and you can move on, can’t trust someone who screws you 2 years in a row

Charles-Edouard Boivin

This guy has to be banned from the NHL. This is to me like back stabbing your team and fans. The guy is a millionaire and is surrounded by pros – trainers, psychologists, you name it – more than anyone of us will ever have access to.

ZANE

No excuses for how he hurt his team. Just horrible. Hopefully they get back on their game in the 2nd. Just takes 1 shot

Last edited 13 days ago by ZANE
James

Banned from the NHL because he has an addiction problem? Congrats, this might be the dumbest comment I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Addiction can happen to anyone, even millionaires that have access to care.

*831*

Freakin Val! How infuriating!

Sorry but I’m not gonna be another one to show sympathy & say “hope he gets the help he need”. I’ll just say, I hope we go on & win the cup without him, & move on/replace him next season. Can’t rely on him anymore.

john jung

Nichushkin along with MacKinnon and Makar is what differentiates the Avs from most teams. Losing one of the three was the last thing the Avs needed, but here we are. Hope the team can rally around this and play better as a team. But it’s nearly impossible to replace one of the big three.

Julie Kauffman

Probably not the time to ask, but going to anyway. When Val was in player assistance earlier this year, there was no cap relief for the Avs. If he’s still under contract next season, but suspended, is there cap relief?

Ray McKigney

was wondering that to. I agree its time to part ways with Val, but not sure they can just outright cut him w/out any cap repercussions. going to be some hard discussions in the front office this season, not just about Val, but for Gabe to.

Boom Boom Beck

Effed the team and its fan base two seasons in a row. Forget the financials. Cut his ass!

Last edited 13 days ago by Boom Boom Beck
Michael Fazio

Just. Gross.

Terminate his contract and go grab two role players who can score. No one else in the league like Nuke, both in a good way and detrimentally. Done with his crap … I like him as a player, a great work ethic on the ice … just doesn’t care enough about his life off the ice and that’s an issue that’s not going away. Period.

Neil Bergin

It’s time for him to be gone, can’t waste that kind of money on someone you can’t count on when you need him most. I was shouted down for saying this last season when he screwed us, wonder how many people will still argue with me now?

Michael Fazio

The reality … the Avs are dominant with Nuke in the lineup, almost (key word, almost) unbeatable. The past 3 years with him in the lineup the Avs are 118-35-16 (.747); Without him 39-33-5 (.539), an average team (possibly not even playoff-worthy). Even with Mac, Makar, Mikko, Lehky, Toews in the lineup, they are not an exceptional hockey team … they are very average, which is incredible to say out loud. IMO, he is DONE … you will not see him in an Avs uniform again. So, where do we go next? Do you blow this rendition up (move Mikko,… Read more »

Grzegorz Kociuba

I hope he never plays for the Avs again. You can’t act like that. You can’t let your team down for the second year in a row. Get off

Joseph Crotty

How COL handled the April 24, 2023 Seattle hotel incident is truly ironic. The Seattle PD report makes it fairly clear illegal thing(s) happened and the team protected him from the consequences. If they had let the police intervene and press charges they would now have grounds for material breach of contract (e.g., Richard’s of the LA Kings was caught with Oxycontin at the Canada border circa 2015 and they negated his contract with a cut rate CBA buyout that saved loads of money). Instead, Val has tied the hands of both the players and management to the tune of… Read more »

dp10

Is that true?

Regardless, I think you are absolutely right. Supporting Val seemed like the right thing to do, but they also took a massive gamble. Not entirely dissimilar to gambling on Landy’s ability to come back.

Golden Boy

“The Seattle PD report makes it fairly clear illegal thing(s) happened and the team protected him from the consequences.”

Can you please share the portion of the report that makes this clear? I, for one. would like some clarity as to why Nuke left the team last Spring. The only reporting I have seen is that the Seattle PD did not consider it a criminal matter. Thanks.

Glendon Gulliver

Substance abuse/addiction is a disease, just like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. One does not choose to have it and it can strike anyone. Mental diseases, to include addiction issues and depression, are not curable. They can be treated, but they will never go away. Like other diseases, there are varying levels of how serious it can be. Some people have an easier time with treatment and recovery, while others do not.   While substance abuse is a disease, many wrongly treat it as a lifestyle choice or character issue. It is not. For this reason, it is not always… Read more »

IAN

God damn some of you are absolutely brutal! This is a human being with a disease and also has a very young child. He needs better help than the program he tried before. I also find it very strange on the avs brass to let this happen and keep the fans in the dark. Don’t be mad at just Val we need some clarity from someone outside the locker room

EnzoSin

Good luck getting that clarity mate. This organization has always loved to keep things G-14 classified since the Pierre Lacroix days.

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