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Vrana Talks Red Wings Departure, Substance Abuse Issues



Jakub Vrana, Blues

Within days of returning to the Detroit Red Wings from the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, forward Jakub Vrana immediately was gaining a sense that things weren’t the same.

He felt certain that his time with the team would soon be at an end.

In a far-reaching interview with Czech website Denik Sport, Vrana touches all of the bases, from his entry into the program, his depature from the Red Wings and his revival with the St. Louis Blues.

Speaking to his demise in Detroit, Vrana is certain that someone in the team’s hockey operations staff didn’t want him back once he’d completed his rehab program. He’s just not sure who that person would be.

“I don’t know if it came from the coach (Derek Lalonde) or the general manager (Steve Yzerman),” Vrana told Denik Sport. “But I felt that something was wrong.”

Vrana would enter the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program in October, shortly after scoring a goal in the second game of the 2022-23 NHL regular season against the New Jersey Devils. Within days of return to the Red Wings, the team was sending him to the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins on a rehab assignment. But instead of recalling Vrana at the conclusion of his rehab stint, the Red Wings would opt to place him on waivers. Upon clearing waivers, the Wings were returning Vrana to GR.

In February, he was given a recall to Detroit. However, after playing just three games, he was dealt to the St. Louis Blues.

In St. Louis, Vrana would regain his patented scoring touch. He would be producing 10 goals in 20 games.

“With trade came a new beginning,” Vrana said. “I got the chance to play again.”

Vrana Feeling Reborn Since Leaving Red Wings

Looking back at his tumultuous season, the Czech player still chooses not to get into the specifics of what led him into the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. What he will say is that making the decision to undergo treatment was exactly the proper thing for him to do.

“Something happened to me in my life,” is all Vrana will say about the reason for his rehab stint. “I did the right thing by seeking help.”

He’s thankful for the people who tood by his side through this difficult time in his life.

“Mental problems and substances are more closely related,” Vrana said. “When someone doesn’t know what to do, those people are there for him.”

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Today, he’s feeling revitalized and looking forward to resuming his NHL career. That resumption could be coming in a new home. Rumors of a massive trade between the Blues and Philadelphia Flyers are including Vrana’s name as among the pieces.

“It’s about a person finding another meaning in life and getting rid of everything they have to face,” Vrana said of the change he’s undergone in his life and lifestyle.