Capitals defenceman Ethan Bear enters NHL/NHLPA player assistance program

Washington Capitals defenceman Ethan Bear is entering the NHL and NHL Players’ Association’s joint assistance program and will be unavailable to the club for an indefinite period.

The NHLPA and NHL said in a joint release Wednesday that Bear will be eligible to return to on-ice competition when cleared by the program administrators.

The 25-year-old from Ochapowace First Nation, near Regina, is in his first season with Washington after signing a two-year, $4.125-million US deal in December.

He joined the Capitals after injuring his shoulder while representing Canada at the 2023 world hockey championship and undergoing surgery.

Bear has a goal and three assists in 24 games with Washington this season.

He has 17 goals and 50 assists in 275 NHL games with Edmonton, Carolina, Vancouver and Washington.

Bear is the fifth player this season announced to be in the program after Columbus’ Patrik Laine, Colorado’s Samuel Girard and Valeri Nichushkin and former teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Capitals put Kuznetsov on waivers after he was cleared to practice, sent him to the minors and then traded him to Carolina.

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