Hockey players are just like other human beings. Everyone goes through struggles, and athletes are no different.

In the NHL, the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program is available to all players and their families. The program aids those who are going through mental health, substance abuse or other issues.

Panthers goaltender Spencer Knight is the latest player to enter the program. The league and the players' association announced on Feb. 24 that Knight “will be unavailable to his club for an indefinite period while he receives care from the player assistance program of the NHL and NHLPA..”

The program has been used more frequently in recent years. Earlier this year, Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana stepped away from the organization and spent a few months in the program. Predators forward Michael McCarron did as well.

Last season, Canadiens goalie Carey Price and Predators netminder Connor Ingram both spent time away from their organizations while in the program. During the 2019-20 season, Bobby Ryan spent nearly three months away from the Senators while getting help.

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Here is more information on the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.

What is the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program?

The NHL/NHLPA player assistance program was created to assist players and their families in dealing with mental health, substance abuse and other issues.

The program gives players access to a confidential phone line, and counselors are available in every league city.

There is no set time a player must spend in the program. Players continue to be paid while they step away from hockey and focus on themselves. No one can leave the program until they have been cleared by those running it.

Because privacy is a main component of the program, the behind-the-scenes operation has not been documented, and people’s reasons for entering the program are not released. Some athletes have spoken out after they left the program about why they entered.

When was the NHL/NHLPA assistance program created?

The NHL and NHLPA started the player assistance program in 1996. The program has been used by players for over 25 years now.