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NHL suspended Nichushkin again! Is the Russian star in big trouble?

Valery Nichushkin for the second year in a row during the playoff series of the National Hockey League (NHL) leaves the Colorado Avalanche camp early. not for sporting reasons. For the Russian striker, the season is officially over.
On the eve of the fourth game of the series against the Dallas Stars, in which the Avalanche need to win back (1-2), the NHL announced the suspension of the club's star from Denver. The forward will undergo the new, third stage of the league’s player assistance program. In this regard, Nichushkin will be unavailable to participate in matches for at least six months without pay. Only after this period has expired will the Colorado forward be able to submit an application to the league for his reinstatement. If the Russian fails the third stage of treatment, he will be transferred to the fourth – according to it, the NHL player assistance program involves the suspension of a hockey player from games and training for at least one year, also without pay, and the athlete’s restoration is not guaranteed.

During the current season, Nichushkin has already left the club to undergo a program to help league players. The essence of this program is to provide psychological support and rehabilitation to players experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling or mental health. Valery received permission to return to training with the team only at the end of February, and at the beginning of March he played his first match after a forced pause.
Does the Russian have problems with “substances”? The main principle of the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) within the framework of the league’s assistance program for hockey players is to maintain the complete privacy of athletes – details of their health status are not advertised. Nichushkin himself, leaving the Colorado location last winter, noted that he intended to “solve his problems and prevent any negative consequences once and for all.” Exactly what difficulties were discussed is officially unknown. This situation only gave rise to a wave of various rumors.

Valery's new suspension from games was also not without speculation. However, given the status of journalists who share their information, it is impossible not to pay attention to their information. Thus, the well-known and authoritative North American insider Frank Seravalli and observer of all events related to the activities of Colorado, Adrian Deiter, reported that Valery Nichushkin failed the so-called drug test.
This expression requires clarification. The English word drugs has several translation options into Russian. In the current situation, this difference is of fundamental importance, because drugs can be translated as both “drugs” and “medicines”. What concept is specifically contained in these messages is unknown. Therefore, it is premature to draw conclusions.

The best season is down the drain. The Russian again “abandoned” the club at a crucial moment. This season has truly become the best in Nichushkin’s career. Even taking into account a pause of just under two months, Valery not only returned to his previous shape and condition, but also made serious progress. The Colorado forward had a strong run at the end of the regular season and retained his momentum for the playoffs. He even increased it: in eight games of the Stanley Cup, Val scored nine goals, simultaneously scoring his first career hat-trick in the NHL and maintaining his leadership position in the sniper race. Moreover, Nichushkin scored all his goals in seven matches in a row, repeating the NHL record for the longest goal streak at the start of the tournament. The Russian became only the second in the history of the league to achieve such a result (in 1992, Pat LaFontaine also scored goals in the first seven matches of the playoffs in a row).

However, all efforts were completely undone. Colorado is already having a very difficult and difficult time in the series against Dallas, and now the Avalanche have lost one of their main and key players. You can hardly count on success in such a situation. The Avalanche have faced something similar for the second year in a row: last season, Jared Bednar's team also lost Nichushkin right during the playoff series against the Seattle Kraken and ultimately suffered a resounding defeat. The club from Denver, at that time the current owner of the Stanley Cup, resigned as champion already at the stage of the first round of the tournament.

Nichushkin's expulsion from the Avalanche camp was explained by family circumstances. However, at the same time the name of the Russian appeared in the scandal. However, Valery was not brought to any responsibility and was allowed to play in the NHL without any restrictions from the very beginning of the new season. However, a negative imprint was left on the name of the Russian forward. If Colorado fails this season, there will be even more dissatisfied comments and questions addressed to Valery from Avalanche fans.


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