Avalanche’s Valeri Nichushkin suspended six months for alleged failed drug test

Avalanche’s Valeri Nichushkin suspended six months for alleged failed drug test

Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin will not be on the ice for the rest of the playoffs. 

Nichushkin was placed in Stage 3 of the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program on Monday night, the league and Players Association announced. 

As part of the joint program, Nichushkin was suspended for six months without pay and will be eligible to apply for reinstatement after that time has passed. 


Valeri Nichushkin
Valeri Nichushkin will be eligible to apply for reinstatement after his suspension. NHLI via Getty Images

The statement by the league did not say what had occurred to trigger the suspension, but The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported that Nichushkin had “recently failed a drug test.” 

Being placed in Stage 3 of the program means that a player violated the Stage 2 treatment plan, and if he is found to violate the Stage 3 plan at a later time he would be suspended for one year and there would be no guarantee he could be reinstated, the Denver Post reported

The Player Assistance Program was set up in 1996 in a collaborative effort by the league and union to “help players when they’re struggling with mental health, substance abuse and other issues,” according to ESPN. 

Monday marked the third time in just over a year that Nichushkin has faced off-the-ice issues, which included an incident last year during the playoffs. 

In April 2023, Nichushkin was linked to an alcohol-related incident at the Four Seasons hotel in Seattle prior to Game 3 of the Avalanche’s first-round series with the Seattle Kraken. 

An intoxicated woman had been discovered in Nichushkin’s room by team staffers. 


Valeri Nichushkin
Valeri Nichushkin was suspended six months by the NHL. USA TODAY Sports

The forward did not play for the remainder of that playoffs due to “personal reasons.” 

Nichushkin stepped away from the team earlier this year when he went into the NHL/NHLPA Players Assistance Program in January in order to “address my issues and prevent any negative outcomes once and for all.”

He returned to the team in March but did not publicly address his time in the program. 

The NHLer took part in an optional skate on Sunday and was on the ice for morning skate at Ball Arena on Monday, according to the Denver Post. 

The announcement was made just hours ahead of Game 4 of the second-round series between the Stars and Avalanche, which the Stars entered with a 2-1 lead. 

Nichushkin had a career year this season, recording a career-best 28 goals and 53 points. 

In the playoffs, his nine goals are tied with Oilers forward Zach Hyman for the most in the postseason.

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Christian Arnold

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