NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, explained: Red Wings' Jakub Vrana latest to join

NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, explained: Red Wings' Jakub Vrana latest to join

Hockey players are just like other human beings. Everyone goes through struggles, and athletes are no different. 

In the NHL, the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program is available to all players and their families. The program aids those who are going through mental health, substance abuse or other issues. 

Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana is the latest player to enter the program. The Wings and the players’ association announced Oct. 19 that he would be away from the team indefinitely “while he receives care.”

The program has been used more frequently in recent years. Last season, Canadiens goalie Carey Price and Predators netminder Connor Ingram both spent time away from their organizations while in the program. During the 2019-20 season, Bobby Ryan spent nearly three months away from the Senators while getting help.

Here is more information on the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. 

What is the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program?

The NHL/NHLPA player assistance program was created to assist players and their families in dealing with mental health, substance abuse and other issues.

The program gives players access to a confidential phone line, and counselors are available in every league city.

There is no set time a player must spend in the program. Players continue to be paid while they step away from hockey and focus on themselves. No one can leave the program until they have been cleared by those running it.

Because privacy is a main component of the program, the behind-the-scenes operation has not been documented, and people’s reasons for entering the program are not released. Some athletes have spoken out after they left the program about why they entered. 

When was the NHL/NHLPA assistance program created?

The NHL and NHLPA started the player assistance program in 1996.