AVALANCHE

Seattle Police report involving Valeri Nichushkin leads to more questions

Apr 27, 2023, 5:03 PM | Updated: 6:36 pm

The Colorado Avalanche have been without Valeri Nichushkin for nearly a week as the team says the Russian forward is out due to “personal reasons.”

While the Avalanche have offered little explanation about Nichushkin, who signed an eight-year $49 million deal last summer, some details have emerged about his absence.

According to the Seattle Police Department, they were called for a crisis situation at the Avalanche’s hotel in Seattle last Saturday at about 3:45 p.m. — hours before the team’s Game 3 contest with the Kraken. Nichushkin was named in the incident report from law enforcement.

The police report states that a woman, Irina (last name redacted by Denver Sports), was located by Avs employees when they went looking for Nichushkin. She was in the player’s hotel room heavily intoxicated and the Avs team doctor, Bradley G. Changstrom, believed that Irina was too intoxicated to have left the hotel in a ride-share or cab service, so he called 911.

Changstrom said that Irina hit him, but he did not want to press charges, according to the police report.

An off-duty Denver Police officer that traveled with the Avs said in the report that he was unaware of any criminal interactions with Irina, only that she was heavily intoxicated.

Changstrom told police there were no connections that he knew of in the past between Irina and Nichushkin.

Irina told police that she was from Russia and was born in Ukraine. She said that she shouldn’t have come to the United States and that somebody who she described as a “bad person” took her passport, according to the report.

Irina was detained for being a danger to others due to her intoxicated nature, according to SPD.

Seattle Fire also responded to the incident and Irina was taken away in an ambulance. Irina has no criminal history in Washington courts, according to Denver Sports’ sister station KIRO.

It is unknown where Nichushkin was flown to or why after this incident, but several reports say he left the Avalanche’s hotel with team security. He missed Game 3 that night, and didn’t play in Games 4 or 5. Colorado trails in the series to Seattle, 3-2, facing elimination on Friday evening. The team has since returned to Seattle, with no indication Nichushkin is an option for Game 6.

Nichushkin played 53 games for the Avalanche this season, scoring 17 goals while adding 30 assists. He was a standout player during Colorado’s Stanley Cup run in 2022, tallying nine goals in 20 playoff games. His excellent play earned him the offseason extension as the Avs put their eggs in the Nichushkin basket.

But the Choo Choo train’s season was thwarted a bit this year in part due to injuries lingering from the playoffs. Nichushkin suffered a gnarly foot injury last summer, and then missed more than a month early during this campaign while he recovered from ankle surgery.

Colorado went 12-16-1 without Nichushkin this season, something they’re likely to do again on Friday.

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