Skip to main content


Bednar on Nichushkin: 'Val is obviously struggling with something'


Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar spoke on Valeri Nichushkin's suspension after a 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars in Game 4 on Monday night.

Nichushkin received a suspension of at least six months without pay and was placed in stage 3 of the league's player assistance program just hours ahead of Game 4. 

The loss left the Avalanche on the brink of elimination down 3-1, but Bednar said Nichushkin's situation is bigger than hockey.

“Val is obviously struggling with something," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "I have two thoughts. Yeah, it [stinks] 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. I want him to be happy and I want him to be content in his life, whether that is with our team or not with our team. I want the best for him and his family. I think all of our guys are the same. We hope that he can find some peace and get help. 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.”

The 29-year-old winger has emerged as a key playoff contributor for the Avalanche in recent years and leads the team with nine goals in eight playoff games this spring. He posted 28 goals and 53 points in 54 games during the regular season.

The timing of the suspension appeared weigh on the Avalanche, who only learned of the news as the team arrived at the rink for Game 4. Colorado was outshot 16-2 in the first period, with the Stars entering the intermission up 1-0. 

“We looked frozen in the first period. We were not moving, we were not skating. It looked like we were exhausted, and we should be the rested team,” Bednar said. “I thought we got better in the second, but it was still a struggle. Slow pace, slow thinking, lack of execution. I didn't feel like the guys were not trying, but just everything felt like it was a struggle tonight.

“Tonight, we were atrocious.”

Game 5 is set for Wednesday in Dallas, when the Stars will have a chance to punch their ticket to the Western Conference Final.

Nichushkin will miss the rest of the postseason and at least the first month of next season. He is signed through the 2029-30 season at a cap hit of $6.125 million on an eight-year extension signed in 2022.