New police records and statements from public officials have shed additional light on the situation surrounding Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin. Seattle Fire Department spokesman David Cuerpo said that around 3:20 p.m., less than four hours before Game 3 of the series between the Kraken and the Avalanche, a 911 call about a woman in “distress” was placed from the Four Seasons Hotel where Colorado was staying. The 28-year-old woman, who Mile High Hockey will not be identifying, told authorities that she was from Russia and was born in Ukraine. The Denver Post and Seattle news outlets like MyNorthwest obtained a Seattle Police Department Report, and according to this incident report, the woman was intoxicated and said that “she should never have come to the United States and that some guy took her passport and that he was a bad person.” It does not say who “he” is, and there is no mention of Nichushkin’s whereabouts in this report by the SPD.
The Post reported that Avalanche team employees found the woman when they went to check on Nichushkin in his room. Avalanche team doctor Bradley Changstrom believed she was too intoxicated to safely leave the hotel in a cab, and that is when he called 911 around 3:20 p.m. Officer Joshua Knight of the Seattle Police Department arrived at 3:44 p.m. and met with Changstrom. Officer Knight said that the woman was “gravely disabled.”
The incident report notes that the woman hit Changstrom, and he declined to press charges. It also reports that Officer Knight met with Lieutenant Todd Fuller from the Denver Police Department who was part of two units traveling with the team. Lt. Fuller said that “there were no reports of any criminal interactions beyond [the woman] being heavily intoxicated” and “there were no family connections between Nichushkin and [the woman] that he knew of.” The woman was detained for being a danger to others due to her “assaultive behavior” and was transported to Virginia Mason Medical Center.
Seattle Police Department spokesperson Judinna Gulpan told reporters that there is no criminal investigation of this incident, and Avalanche coach Jared Bednar has said on multiple occasions that Nichushkin’s absence is not disciplinary and it is not related to legal issues. Bednar reiterated that there is no timeline for his return but that the team is in contact with him.
That is all we know right now. All of this information comes from both the incident report and Seattle Fire and Police spokesmen, and it doesn’t leave us with a clear picture of what happened.
There have been a lot of discussions this week about how appropriate it is to talk about these circumstances given their sensitive nature, and that reflex to protect someone’s privacy in the face of uncertainty is an admirable one, but as people who report and aggregate the news, we cannot shy away from this story. A key player on the defending Stanley Cup Champions abruptly left the team and the city just hours before Game 3. Understanding why that happened is in the public’s interest, but it is inappropriate and irresponsible to try to answer why it happened before we have all of the details. This incident report has provided us with a partial outline of the situation surrounding Valeri Nichushkin, but it is far from conclusive.
No matter what the next steps are, we hope for the best for all parties involved.