The Colorado Avalanche sorely missed Valeri Nichushkin for the final five games of their Round 1 series against the Seattle Kraken in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The talented winger was away from the team after an incident at a Seattle hotel that resulted in the 28-year-old going back to his home country of Russia.
“I know you guys want to find something there but it's nothing really interesting,” Nichushkin told reporters. “I think we should close it. It's a new season right now. We have to focus on that.”
Nichushkin continued to deflect questions from his mysterious playoff absence, saying he was away from the team for “family reasons.”
Officers were called to the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle just hours before Game 3 between the Kraken and Avalanche, and took an intoxicated 28-year-old woman to the hospital.
Nichushkin didn't play another game in the series, a joint decision between he and the team, but made it clear that he probably would have been available had the Avs won Game 7.
“We make the next round I probably play,” Nichushkin said. “I want to say thank you everybody for supporting me.”
It looks like no more details will be given, and it's clear that the Russian winger is looking to put the entire situation behind him ahead of the 2023-24 season.
The team sorely missed the Chelyabinsk native; only two Colorado players scored more goals than his nine during the team's scintillating Stanley Cup run in 2022.
The lack of offensive depth was glaring against the Kraken once Nichushkin became unavailable, and had he been able to play, the series may have gone a different way.
“We just know he's going to be here for us and he's such an amazing player,” Nathan MacKinnon said on Wednesday night ahead of training camp. “We all love him and yeah, everything's good.”
Although it still seems like there could be details that are being held back from the public, the fact that Valeri Nichushkin is back on the ice in Denver is a huge victory for both his Avalanche teammates and fans of the franchise.