Valeri Nichushkin has broken his silence on an incident last spring that led to him leaving the Colorado Avalanche midway through their first-round series against the Seattle Kraken last spring.
After playing in the first two games of the series for the Avalanche, Nichushkin was nowhere to be found for Game 3 — with Avs coach Jared Bednar citing his absence as a maintenance day. Later, Colorado revealed that Nichushkin had left the club due to “personal reasons.”
Shortly thereafter, The Athletic’s Peter Baugh reported that an Avalanche team physician encountered a heavily intoxicated woman in Valeri Nichushkin’s hotel room prior to Game 3 and called 911 after determining the woman was too inebriated to leave the hotel in a rideshare or cap service.
Nichushkin was mentioned by name in the report. Once she was in the ambulance, the report stated that the woman — who was from Russia and born in Ukraine — told a Seattle Police officer that “some guy took her passport and that he was a bad person.”
When asked about the circumstances behind his departure on Monday, Nichushkin said he left the team due to family reasons and that his decision to leave was a mutual one between Colorado and himself. He declined to provide further details.
“I know you guys want to find something there but there’s nothing really interesting,” Nichushkin said. “I think we should close it. It’s a new season right now. We have to focus on that.”
Nichushkin also refused to provide clarity on his involvement with this woman when asked directly about the report.
“I told you, let’s close it,” Nichushkin said. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Nichushkin, who is entering the second season of an eight-year, $49 million contract, missed the remainder of the Kraken series, which the Avalanche lost. The Athletic reports Nichushkin reportedly flew out of Seattle, however, it is yet to be confirmed where exactly he flew to.
“If we had made the next round, I’d probably have played,” Nichushkin said.
Mark Gandler, Nichushkin’s agent, refuted the validity of the report at the time, telling The Athletic that no one was found in his client's room and that the situation had nothing to do with him. Body cam footage of the incident was later released by Seattle police.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said over the summer that the league was aware of what happened and that they believe the Avalanche handled the situation appropriately.