Injured Blue Jackets forward Laine enters NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program

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Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is entering the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, the league and union announced Sunday.

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 for games when cleared by administrators.

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

The 25-year-old Finn has admitted to having struggled with mental health at times during his professional career. In October, he pledged to donate US$1,000 to OhioHealth for mental health resources and support in the Columbus area.

Laine hasn’t played since fracturing his left collarbone in a game in mid-December. Due to injury, he was limited to 18 games and recorded six goals and nine points.

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

Girard, who has spoken of anxiety and depression leading to alcohol abuse, was away from hockey for about a month. He returned to training in November and played his first match on New Year’s Eve.

WATCH | The NHLPA launches a mental health program:

NHLPA launches mental health program

The National Hockey League Players’ Association is launching a new mental health program to support players and their families. The initiative, called “First Line,” aims to help players prioritize overall well-being on and off the ice.

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