Avalanche React to Valeri Nichushkin’s Drug-Related Suspension

Colorado Avalanche's Valeri Nichushkin has been suspended for a minimum of six months for failing a drug test.

Getty Colorado Avalanche's Valeri Nichushkin has been suspended for a minimum of six months for failing a drug test.

The Colorado Avalanche allowed the Dallas Stars to take a three-to-one series lead on Monday and it can be said they actually lost thrice on May 13.

The Avs kicked their week off with the loss of two players (one to an illness, the other to a six-month suspension for failing a drug test) and the loss of Game 4 against Dallas, falling 3-1 in their matchup against the Star and facing a steep hill to mount a series comeback.

Colorado’s head coach and teammates spoke about Valeri Nichusskin’s six-month ban after the game, discussing his upcoming long-term absence and the impact it will have during the remainder of this season.

“I have two thoughts,” Avs coach Jared Bednar told reporters during his postgame press conference on May 13. “Yeah, it sucks for our team. It hurts our team, there’s no question. He’s a great player.

“I’ve gotten to know Val as a person and I’ve gotten to know him as one of our teammates, and I want what’s best for him. That’s the other side of it. Hockey is not life and death, even though we treat it like it is.

“Val is a big priority, and our team is another one. Now they are separated. They’re not together.

“Obviously, not happy about it.”

Teammate Andrew Cogliano found it hard to find the proper words to describe Nichushkin’s suspension following Game 4.

“I don’t know,” Cogliano told reporters after the May 13 loss, via Denver Gazette’s Kyle Fredrickson, when asked if Nichushkin’s news affected the team on Monday. “At this point, it is what it is, really. It is what it is.”

Colorado Avalanche Had a Day to Forget on Monday, May 13

Before the Game 4 loss to the Stars, one Dallas won 5-1 to go up 3-1 in the second-round series against the Avalanche, the NHL along with the NHL Players’ Association informed Colorado the league had suspended forward Valeri Nichushkin for the next six months, minimum.

After that official announcement, NHL insider Frank Seravalli reported the supposed cause for Nichushkin’s suspension as a failed drug test of late.

“Sources say Nichushkin recently failed a drug test,” Seravalli wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, before puck drop on May 13.

An hour later and approaching puck-drop time, the Avs were forced to rule out defenseman Devon Toews with an illness, removing a second key member of their roster from their gameday squad.

And finally, once the puck dropped and Game 4 got going, the Avalanche found no way to stop Dallas, thus falling down 3-1 in the series against the Stars and having to win out all three games left in the matchup if the Avs want to pull off a miracle and clinch a place in the Western Conference finals.

Avs Focused on Rest of Stars Series, Moving On

Following the game, Denver Post’s Corey Masisak reported that Colorado had already removed Nichushkin’s nameplate from his locker room stall.

The reporter also quoted teammate Jack Johnson sharing his thoughts on the news of Nichushkin’s six-month suspension following his latest offense.

“He made his decisions,” Johnson said after the Game 4, via Masisak. “That’s all I’m going to say on that. He made his decisions.”

Cogliano, who was available to the media after the game, added that the Avalanche “are giving it all we’ve got,” in the series against the Stars, even though nothing seems to be working for the team as they fell for the third time in four games on Monday.

“I think we’re just focusing on our job,” Cogliano told reporters after the game, via NHL.com’s Tracey Myers. “We’re in the second round of the playoffs. This is a tough business; this is our job and we’re giving it all we’ve got.

“So I think we focus on the guys in the room. We have a lot of good people here who are trying to make a difference and at the end of the day it is what it is for us.”

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