Capitals' Evgeny Kuznetsov Enters NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov is entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, the league and union announced Monday.

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

The Capitals said earlier Monday that Kuznetsov was not practicing for personal reasons.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals smiles against the New York Rangers during the second period at Capital One Arena on January 13, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

After Kuznetsov’s name was part of trade talk last summer, the 31-year-old Russian is in the middle of another disappointing season in Washington with 17 points through 43 games.

Kuznetsov is the fourth player this season announced to be in the joint NHL/NHLPA program after Columbus’ Patrik Laine and Colorado’s Samuel Girard and Valeri Nichushkin.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 30: Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals looks on against the Nashville Predators during the second period of the game at Capital One Arena on December 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Ima

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.

Kuznetsov in 2019 was suspended without pay for three regular-season games by the NHL for "inappropriate conduct," less than a month after he was banned from playing for Russia for four years because of a positive test for cocaine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.