Red Wings’ Jakub Vrana back from player assistance program

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana practiced for the first time in two months on Friday, returning to the team after entering the player assistance program of the NHL and NHL Players’ Association.

Vrana declined to specify why he entered the program.

“There’s bigger things than hockey in life and you have to get it in order,” Vrana said. “You have to make some decisions that are important in your life and then hockey.”

The 26-year-old Vrana had a goal and an assist in a win at New Jersey in October and two days later, he didn’t play against the Los Angeles Kings due to personal reasons.

Vrana, from the Czech Republic, has 98 goals and 91 assists in 323 career regular-season games.

He was selected by Washington with the No. 13 pick in the 2014 draft. Detroit acquired Vrana in a trade with the Capitals in April 2021, along with Richard Panik, a first- and second-round pick in exchange for Anthony Mantha. Last year, the Red Wings gave him a three-year contract worth $5.25 million per season.

The NHL and NHLPA started the player assistance program in 1996, giving players access to a confidential phone line and counselors in each city in the league. The jointly funded group assists players and their families with mental health, substance abuse and other matters.

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