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Avalanche's Girard enters player assistance program

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Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, the league announced Friday.

Girard hasn't played since Saturday and will be away from the team for an indefinite period.

"I have made a proactive decision to take care of my mental health and will be entering treatment for severe anxiety and depression that has gone untreated for too long and led to alcohol abuse," Girard said through his agency.

"Taking care of your mental health is of the utmost importance, and I encourage everyone to speak up and seek help should you feel like you need it. I want to express my gratitude to my wife, family, friends, the club, my teammates, and the fans for their patience, understanding, and continued support."

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar offered support for his defenseman.

"We're with him," Bednar said later Friday evening, according to The Athletic's Michael Russo. "We completely support what he's going through and his decision to go into the program and get help. You've got to take care of yourself first before you're able to ... come and help a team. We miss him and we're really excited to get him back at some point. We don't know exactly when that's going to be, but we'll be in support."

Girard, 25, has tallied a goal and three assists in 15 games this season while averaging 20:37 per contest. He posted a career-high 37 points in 2022-23.

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