Avs head coach Jared Bednar speaks on Nichushkin’s decision
Jan 16, 2024, 11:43 AM | Updated: Jan 17, 2024, 11:41 am
Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin entered the Player Assistance Program of the NHLPA and NHL on Monday.
Nichushkin released a statement through the team, saying he wanted to address his issues “once and for all.” It’s brave for Nichushkin to seek treatment, and hopefully he can get the help he needs and eventually return to the Avs later this season.
After Colorado lost to Montreal 4-3 on Monday night, head coach Jared Bednar addressed the situation, wishing Nichushkin the best.
“It takes a lot of guts to be able to do that. He’s struggling through a time right now and yeah we wish him the best. We’re going to miss him, no question, but we’re there for him and hopefully he goes and gets taken care of and is able to get back to us sometime soon,” Bednar said.
Nichushkin is the second Avalanche player to enter the program this season, after defenseman Samuel Girard had a successful stint and has since re-joined the team. Bednar was asked about the culture around the Avs and guys feeling comfortable asking for help.
“I would like to think that they should feel supported from our group. We try to treat it as a big family. You’d support your family if they had to go through something like that and we’re the same way as a team,” Bednar said. “I’d prefer that it wasn’t an issue for us a couple of times, but it is what it is and we want him to be feeling good about himself and where he’s at.”
When asked how the Avalanche will go about trying to replace Nichushkin on the ice, Bednar got straight to the point.
“You don’t,” the head coach said.
Nichushkin is having a huge year for Colorado, posting 42 points by netting 22 goals and adding 20 assists. He’s fourth on the team in points, trailing only Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen. The 22 goals has him tied with Rantanen, just one behind MacKinnon.
For now, the Avalanche will have to make do without Nichushkin, but hopefully he’s back at some point — whenever that might be. He’s clearly got the support of Bednar and the organization moving forward.