On Oct. 19, the top-six winger was placed in the players assistance program, a program administered by the NHL and the NHL Players Association designed to assist players dealing with a wide-range of issues relating to anything from mental health to substance abuse.
Asked Wednesday if the Wings had received any news on Vrana, coach Derek Lalonde sounded optimistic that might soon change.
“No updates at all,” he said. “We hope to hear maybe the PA or the league, make a statement here soon.”
Vrana was earmarked to be a major part of the Wings’ offense, but he’s not been with the team since two games into the season. Since acquiring Vrana, 26, as part of the Anthony Mantha trade at the 2021 deadline, Vrana has played in 39 games for the Wings. He missed the first 56 games last season after showing up at training camp with a sore shoulder that required surgery. Vrana is signed through next season at a $5.25 salary cap hit.
The Wings have not had a player in the assistance program before. There is no set frame for how much time it takes. Former Wings forward Bobby Ryan spent time in the program while with the Ottawa Senators, and was gone from the team from Nov. 20-Feb. 5. When the Wings will see Vrana again is unclear.
“We are waiting to hear ourselves,” Lalonde said. “I don’t know what the protocol is. This is uncharted territory for us, too.”
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.