Participation in the NHL’s player assistance program is up this season. That may not be a bad thing

5 days ago 17

It was untreated anxiety and depression that Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard blamed for his alcohol abuse, a problem that reached the point where he needed to step away from hockey.

He made a decision to leave the Avalanche and enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program earlier this season. Girard returned to practice a month later, resumed playing and declared: “It changed my life.”

Girard was the first of five players to step away this season to receive care from the program jointly run by the league and union — the same number of players who sought help over the previous three years comb...

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