MacKinnon offers strong endorsement for Avs welcoming back Nichushkin

Sep 20, 2023, 5:49 PM | Updated: 8:13 pm

Nichushkin MacKinnon...

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The mystery around Valeri Nichushkin leaving the Colorado Avalanche during the playoffs last spring against the Kraken won’t linger into this year, so says superstar Nathan Mackinnon.

MacKinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog, defensemen Cale Makar and Devon Toews, plus head coach Jared Bednar met with the media on Wednesday. The Avs hosted folks at The Inverness Denver to hear from the team’s biggest stars ahead of training camp.

Colorado is coming off a disappointing defense of their Stanley Cup, losing in Round 1 to Seattle.

But an early exit was overshadowed by the situation with Nichushkin.

He left the team hotel in Seattle hours before Game 3, surrounded by questions. There was a police report, a 911 call and body camera footage. Bednar called the situation “personal” time and time again, despite authorities being involved and a Russian woman making some strong accusations about a “bad man” stealing her passport.

The matter was handled appropriately, according to the NHL, and Nichushkin won’t be disciplined. Still, when the team was trying to go back-to-back, one of their best players disappeared.

MacKinnon doesn’t seem worried about it, squashing any issues or awkwardness heading into this year.

“Yeah, with open arms,” MacKinnon said on how Nichushkin would be welcomed back. “We love Val. And I think it’s more than faith, I think we just know he’s going to be here for us. He’s such an amazing player. I’ve said it many times, I thought he was our best player in the Final against Tampa. He was such a beast all over the ice.”

“Val’s a good person at the end of the day. He’s a great guy. We all love him. Yeah, everything’s good,” MacKinnon added.

Bednar said twice that he has ” faith” in Nichushkin and Makar said having him back “is awesome,” adding the team has “turned the page.”

Colorado will open training camp Thursday at the Family Sports Center in Centennial, before their first preseason game on Sunday against the Wild.

They’ll do it for real starting on Oct. 11, as a road contest with the Los Angeles Kings opens the regular season.

With so much football interest currently in Colorado, it’s crazy the ice is getting frozen at Ball Arena once again. But it’s fun to follow good teams, and the Avalanche are certainly projected to be one of them.

The action gets going tomorrow morning at 8:15 a.m. with “Group 1” opening training camp, followed by a second batch of skaters at 10:35.

And Nichushkin will be part of it, as all the relevant parties have moved on.



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