Jakub Vrana returns to Detroit Red Wings after 2 months in NHL player assistance program

Detroit Free Press

Jakub Vrana wore a no-contact sweater and a smile as he practiced with the Detroit Red Wings for the first time after two months in the NHL/NHL Players Association player assistance program.

Vrana took repetitions Friday at Little Caesars Arena along with Dylan Larkin and Filip Hronek, the latter two of whom were unable to finish the past two games. Hronek wore a regular sweater, indicating he is good to go for Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators after suffering a concussion scare Wednesday. Larkin wore a blue no-contact jersey, indicating he will not be available.

The NHLPA released a statement saying Vrana is available to play and has entered the follow-up care phase of its player assistance program.

The program is designed to assist players dealing with a range of issues relating to anything from mental health to substance abuse.

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Wings coach Derek Lalonde told the Free Press on Wednesday the team had expected any announcement any day.

While Vrana looked good, his availability to play is uncertain. He was placed in the program Oct. 19, two games into the season.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. 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.

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