INSIDE THE AVALANCHE

How the Avalanche reacted to the stunning Nichushkin suspension

May 13, 2024, 11:58 PM | Updated: May 14, 2024, 1:27 pm

The suspension of Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin was a stunning one on Monday night.

The news broke just an hour before the Avs played the Dallas Stars in Game 4 of their Round 2 series. Nichushkin will be out at least six months before he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement. This comes as he enters Stage 3 of the Player Assistance Program of the NHL and NHLPA.

And Colorado played like they had just lost their leading goal-scorer in the postseason. Nichushkin was sorely missed in a 5-1 loss to the Stars, putting Colorado on the brink of elimination and down 3-1 in the series. The Avalanche were lifeless, and the offense was nowhere to be found.

After the game, several players and head coach Jared Bednar spoke about the shock of the news so close to the biggest game of the season. Here’s what they had to say.

“I learned about it earlier today,” Bednar said. “Obviously, not happy about it, but it is what it is. It’s out of our control.”

Bednar went on to get asked if Nichushkin let the team down. He gave a lengthy answer, saying the human is more important than hockey.

While Bednar isn’t sure if Nichushkin will play for the Avalanche ever again, it’s clear he cares about the man. This is now Nichushkin’s third time being away from the team in the last 13 months.

Meanwhile, star defenseman Cale Makar was asked when the players learned about Nichushkin missing Game 4 and the rest of the postseason.

“Just basically before the game, kind of coming to the rink. Obviously, a tough day,” Makar said. “It’s tough to go home (after morning skate) expecting them to play. It’s unfortunate the way it ended up, but at the same time we have a deep group.”

Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev was quick to wish Nichushkin well in his recovery efforts.

“Yeah, it’s unfortunate. I wish him all the best and I feel for us just tried to focus on our job. We put so much effort and preparation into this and try to control what you can control,” Georgiev said.

Defenseman Jack Johnson gave an answer more to the point on how he felt about Nichushkin. As did forward Andrew Cogliano.

Obviously, there were a wide range of emotions going on. The Nichushkin suspension has him done for this season and beyond.

The Avalanche might not be far behind.

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