Russian hero appears in wheelchair at NHL victory parade
Russian winger Valeri Nichushkin was confined to a wheelchair for part of the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup celebrations in Denver on Thursday, but that did not spoil the mood for a player who was integral to his team’s first NHL championship in more than two decades.
The Avalanche team and staff celebrated wildly after brining the trophy back to Denver for the first time since 2001, parading the Stanley Cup through the downtown streets before taking to the stage in front of thousands of fans at Civic Center Park.
Nichushkin was part of the jubilant scenes but appeared to have his mobility restricted after being pictured in a wheelchair – the result of a right foot injury which he somehow defied to play in Game 6 of the finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Avs clinched the title.
Valeri Nichushkin is taking in the parade in a wheel chair pic.twitter.com/Zyld48QeCP— Aarif Deen (@runwriteAarif) June 30, 2022
After that game, the Russian had shown the serious bruising to his foot and it was later reported that he had only managed to get his skate on with medical assistance.
An X-ray shared by the 27-year-old also seemed to show a broken bone in his foot.
Teammate Mikko Rantanen shared an Instagram image of a wheelchair-bound Nichushkin at the parade on Thursday, praising him as a “warrior.”
With his foot in a protective brace, the Russian star did manage to hobble onto the stage in front of fans at Civic Center Park when his name was announced.
After facing questions over his input heading into this year’s playoffs, Nichushkin answered them emphatically with nine goals and 15 points in 20 games.
He contributed four goals and two assists in the finals against the Lightning as the Avs prevented their rivals from achieving an historic ‘threepeat’.
The title for Colorado was their third in team history, following success in 2001 and 1996.
Nichushkin’s stock has risen dramatically as he enters free agency this summer and eyes a potential move away from Colorado, a team he has been with since joining from the Dallas Stars in 2019.
Nichushkin’s success with the Avs meant that Russian hockey has had at least one representative in a Stanley Cup-winning team for the past seven seasons in a row.
However, unlike in past years, Nichushkin will not be granted the honor of parading the famous trophy in his homeland after the NHL banned it from traveling to Russia and Belarus because of the conflict in Ukraine.