Colorado Avalanche attempt to forge forward after shedding Valeri Nichushkin to six-month suspension TERMAN WEBSITE

DENVER (AP) — The nameplate above the locker for Valeri Nichushkin has already been eliminated on the Colorado Avalanche’s observe facility.

It may very well be only for now — or presumably for good.

For a second consecutive yr, the Avalanche are getting ready to elimination from the playoffs with Nichushkin, certainly one of their high gamers, unavailable resulting from circumstances away from the ice.

This can be the final straw for the Avs in relation to the gifted 29-year-old Russian ahead.

The co-leader in Stanley Cup Playoff objectives has been suspended for at the least half a yr. Correspondent Gethin Coolbaugh has extra.

Nichushkin was suspended for at the least six months with out pay Monday evening and positioned in stage 3 of the league’s participant help program. The Nationwide Hockey League and Nationwide Hockey League Gamers’ Affiliation introduced the information about an hour earlier than the beginning of the Avalanche’s 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars that left them trailing 3-1 within the second-round sequence.

Coach Jared Bednar refused responsible the loss on the absence of the group’s main playoff scorer. In spite of everything, Colorado had been with out Nichushkin earlier this season when he was receiving care; his return had buoyed Colorado, however stage 3 means he violated phrases of this system, which gives assist for all the pieces from psychological well being must substance abuse.

Nichushkin will miss the remainder of the postseason and the primary month subsequent season at a minimal.

Teammates heard phrase of his suspension at numerous instances all through the day. They had been out of rhythm early in Recreation 4, outshot by a 16-2 margin within the first interval and will by no means get on observe. They have to win Wednesday in Dallas to keep away from elimination within the best-of-seven sequence.

“Clearly, robust for him, his household,” Colorado star Nathan MacKinnon mentioned Tuesday after an optionally available observe, including he was given the Nichushkin information from president Joe Sakic and common supervisor Chris MacFarland. “That’s all I’m going to say on that.”

Particulars of Nichushkin’s struggles haven’t been disclosed. In a first-round playoff sequence final spring in opposition to Seattle, Nichushkin abruptly left the group and missed the ultimate 5 video games of the postseason because the Avalanche misplaced the sequence 4-3.

On this postseason run, Nichushkin has been a beneficial contributor with a team-leading 9 playoff objectives. He’s beneath contract by way of the 2029-30 season after signing an eight-year, $49 million contract with the Avalanche in 2022.

There’s no telling exactly when — or if — Nichushkin might be again. If he returns, how does he earn again the belief of teammates after they already gave him one other probability?

“Val is clearly scuffling with one thing,” Bednar mentioned. ”Yeah, it sucks for our group. We’ve obtained to show the web page.

“I need him to be completely happy and I need him to be content material in his life, whether or not that’s with our group or not with our group,” Bednar added. “We hope that he can discover some peace and get assist.”

The group is in its peak title-winning window, too, behind a core group that features the 28-year-old MacKinnon; Cale Makar, 25; and Mikko Rantanen, 27. They’re additionally hoping for a return from Gabriel Landeskog, their 31-year-old captain who had cartilage substitute surgical procedure on his proper knee final Might and is lacking a second straight season.

The urgent concern for Colorado is discovering a solution to regroup and keep away from one other early exit.

“It is a robust enterprise, that is our job and we’re giving all of it we’ve obtained,” ahead Andrew Cogliano mentioned. “So I feel we deal with the fellows within the room. Now we have a whole lot of good folks right here who’re making an attempt to make a distinction and on the finish of the day it’s what it’s for us.”

The Avalanche additionally came upon simply earlier than Recreation 4 they might be with out high defenseman Devon Toews due to an sickness, one other blow for a group that gained the Stanley Cup championship in 2022.

“Nobody’s feeling sorry for us,” Cogliano mentioned.

Nichushkin was unavailable for almost two months earlier this season, from Jan. 13 to March 7, to obtain care from the program for points that weren’t launched.

Final spring within the playoffs, Nichushkin’s absence began after officers responded to a disaster name at a Seattle lodge earlier than Recreation 3. A 28-year-old girl was in an ambulance when officers arrived, and medics had been advised to talk with an Avalanche group doctor to assemble extra particulars.

The report, obtained on the time from the Seattle Police Division by The Related Press, mentioned the Avalanche doctor advised officers that group workers discovered the lady after they had been checking on Nichushkin. The doctor advised officers the lady gave the impression to be closely intoxicated and requested EMS help.

Colorado’s season ended with a 2-1 dwelling loss to the Kraken in Recreation 7.

It very nicely might finish in Dallas on Wednesday.

“Clearly, we wish Val within the lineup and we wish (Toews) within the lineup,” MacKinnon mentioned. “However I nonetheless really feel like we’re adequate to win all of it.”


AP Hockey Author Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.



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