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Columbus forward Patrik Laine enters the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program

Patrik Laine
Patrik Laine

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, the league and union announced.

Laine will be away from the team indefinitely while he receives care from the joint program. Under the terms of the program, he can return to the team for practice and then games when cleared by administrators.

“Patrik has our complete support, and our sole concern is his well-being,” said Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, adding the organization would have no further comment out of respect for Laine.

The 25-year-old from Finland explained his absence in a social media post, thanking the team, league and fans for their understanding and support and saying he looks forward to “returning to the ice with a clear mind and renewed energy.”

“After careful consideration and discussion with my support network and the team, I have recognized the importance of prioritizing my mental health and well-being,” Laine said on Instagram. “Hockey has been my passion and my life, but I have come to realize that in order to perform at my best, I need to take this time to focus on myself.”

Laine has acknowledged struggling with mental health at points over his professional career. In October, he pledged to donate $1,000 to OhioHealth for mental health resources and support in the Columbus area.

He hasn’t played since breaking his left clavicle during a game in mid-December. Because of injury, he has been limited to 18 games and recorded six goals and three assists.

The second pick in the 2016 draft by Winnipeg, Laine is in his third full season with the Blue Jackets, who acquired him in a trade with the Jets in 2021. He has 212 goals and 191 assists in 504 career regular-season and playoff games.

Laine is the third player this season announced in the program by the NHL and NHLPA, joining Colorado’s Samuel Girard in November and Avalanche teammate Valeri Nichushkin this month.

Girard, who opened up about anxiety and depression leading to alcohol abuse, was away from hockey for about a month. He returned to practice in November and played his first game on New Year’s Eve.