Jack Johnson calls out Valeri Nichushkin with complete honesty after shocking 6-month suspension

It’s been a tough couple of days for the Colorado Avalanche, and the players couldn’t even hide their frustration on Monday night.

The Avalanche had to play Game 4 against the Stars in the second-round series of the Playoffs without Valeri Nichushkin. They’re now going to be without him for at least six months.

The NHL and NHLPA announced on Monday that Nichushkin, the Avalanche’s leading goal scorer this postseason, has been placed in Stage 3 of the Player Assistance program.

That means that Nichushkin has violated the terms of his Stage 2 treatment. Nichushkin missed nearly two months of the regular season being in the program for Stage 2 treatment. He still finished the season with career-highs in goals and points but will now be absent for at least half a year.

And his teammates couldn’t hide their disappointment. 

After losing 5-1 to the Stars, veteran defenseman Jack Johnson called Nichushkin out.

“He made his decisions,” Johnson said. “That’s all I’m going to say on that. He made his decisions.”

DETROIT, MI – FEBRUARY 22: Jack Johnson #3 of the Colorado Avalanche skates after a loose puck against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at Little Caesars Arena on February 22, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Colorado 2-1 in O.T. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s the second year in a row the Avs had to deal with playing without Nichushkin. Last year, he missed the final five games of the first-round loss to the Seattle Kraken.

It would later turn out in a police report that an intoxicated woman was found in Nichushkin’s hotel room in Seattle.

DENVER, COLORADO – MAY 11: Valeri Nichushkin #13 of the Colorado Avalanche skates in warmups ahead of Game Three of the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Dallas Stars at Ball Arena on May 11, 2024 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Ashley Potts/NHLI via Getty Images)

Head coach Jared Bednar was asked how much ’Nichushkin is letting the team down.’

“I’m not gonna go there. Val is obviously struggling with something,” Bednar said. “I have two thoughts. Yeah, it sucks for our team. We’ve got to turn the page. We’ve got to go play way better than we did today. There’s still 20-plus guys in that room that care and want to win and that are here. That’s what we have to focus on. It hurts our team. There’s no question. He’s a great player.

“And the second one is 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. … Val is a big priority. And our team is another one. Now they are separated. They’re not together.”

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