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Avalanche's Girard set to return after receiving care from player assistance program

Samuel Girard Colorado Avalanche Samuel Girard - Getty Images

DENVER (AP) — Samuel Girard is set to make his return for the Colorado Avalanche after receiving care from the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.

Girard said he'll play Sunday at home against San Jose in his first game since Nov. 18. He entered the program on Nov. 24, citing anxiety and depression leading to alcohol abuse as the reason for seeking help.

The league and Players' Association said on Dec. 22 that Girard had entered the follow-up care phase of the joint program and was cleared to resume practicing. Playing is the next step.

Girard said Saturday he “obviously needed that” and thanked everyone for their support.

“I’m excited I did it, and I’m very excited to be back,” he said. “I’m a new person. ... I feel more alive instead of hiding all this stuff in my head and my body, as well. It just feels good.”

The 25-year-old Girard, from Roberval, Quebec, is in his seventh full NHL season. He broke his sternum midway through Colorado’s Stanley Cup run in 2022.