Valeri Nichushkin returns to Avalanche


Today, just six days before training camp will start, Valeri Nichushkin has arrived in Denver. This is the first time that we have seen him with the team since his departure after game two of the first-round in the playoffs. Once Nichushkin was on the ice, other players were laughing and chatting with the Russian. It seems (at least publicly) that the team has moved on. Fans are a mixed bag of emotions. Some want him off the team, while some recognize that the incident was a personal matter and have moved on. 

On the morning of April 22nd, the day of game three against the Seattle Kraken, Nichushkin was involved in an incident at the team hotel. They found a woman in his room intoxicated and brought to the lobby for treatment. The Colorado Avalanche team doctor treated the unknown woman as well, and the head of security made a statement to the local police. Nichushkin left the hotel in a rush, and they flew him back to Denver immediately from the airport. All coach Jared Bednar would tell the media is “Val has left the team for personal reasons.” He would not comment further than that. 


Some are blaming Nichushkin for the first-round elimination with his PR distraction. It was one thing that the players did not need on their minds going into an important game. Later in the series, the suspension of Cale Makar certainly did not help either. Had the Avalanche had Nichushkin, they would have been able to push their forecheck a lot more against Seattle. It was something that they lacked from game three forward. 

The NHL had investigated the incident involving Nichushkin and had already cleared him of all wrongdoing. It was just a matter of when he would show up. Last season, he showed up at training camp just one day prior because of a foot injury suffered in the Stanley Cup Finals. From the atmosphere today, the team looks as though they have moved on. 

I am sure things will be awkward at the beginning of the season. That awkwardness will pass, especially if Nichushkin is playing well. The only thing that we can do is wait to see how this plays out if the team is truly moving on from the incident or not. 

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