Alexandre Texier will not join the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2022-23 season per the advice of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, the team announced Wednesday.

Texier, a forward, will not be paid by the club and his salary will not count against the salary cap. He will be permitted to sign a one-year contract to play in Europe for the 2022-23 season. Texier was granted an indefinite leave of absence in March after being sidelined with a fractured finger Jan. 26 against Calgary.


"During the past year, I have experienced some personal issues and challenges and I feel I need to be close to my family at this time," Texier said in a statement. "I have love and respect for the city of Columbus, the Blue Jackets, and the fans as everyone has always treated me first-class. I truly appreciate the support, help and empathy I have received from team management, the coaching staff, doctors, trainers and my teammates. This was a hard decision, but it is the best one for me right now." 

Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexandre Texier (42) celebrates a goal during the first period of the NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021.

Will Alexandre Texier eventually return to the Blue Jackets?

Texier was granted the leave of absence after the deaths of two close family members and has shown his closeness with his family in the past. In October 2020, after planning to join KalPa in the Finnish Liiga while the NHL awaited a plan for the 2020-21 season, Texier returned to his native Grenoble to be close to home while a family member battled an illness.


Last season, Texier set career highs in goals and points with 11 goals and nine assists. He was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the second round of the 2017 NHL draft and has recorded 22 goals and 27 assists in 123 games.

In late July, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen indicated that the plan was for Texier to return to Columbus this fall. Texier played for France at the IIHF World Championships in May and appeared on track to resume his NHL career.



"He was probably our best forward at the time he took the leave of absence," Kekalainen said during a July 23 press conference to address the re-signing of Patrik Laine and subsequent trade of Oliver Bjorkstrand to the Seattle Kraken. "We’ve been in contact with him regularly and constantly and we hope that he’s back and feeling good and taking another step in his career. He took a huge step in his career last year, was playing great. That’s what we expect from him next year."


Texier's agent, Simo Niiranen, mirrored those sentiments when reached July 31.


"He is planning to come back," Niiranen said via text message.


Three weeks later, the situation was different. During a recent conversation with Kekalainen, Texier made it known his feelings had changed and he wasn't yet ready to return to Columbus.


"Alexandre Texier and I recently had a very long conversation in which he indicated to me that he was not ready to resume his career in the NHL at this time," Kekalainen said in a statement. "While we are disappointed 'Tex' will not be joining us for the 2022-23 season, as we anticipated, his mental health and well-being remain our top priority and we will continue to support him in any way we can."


Niiranen has covered a lot of scenarios with Texier the past few weeks and does feel that his client wants to continue his Blue Jackets career at some point. He just isn't ready to do it this season.


"I was obviously hoping for him to go back to the NHL, which is by far the best league," Niiranen said. "He wants to be close to family, but absolutely, yes, he wants to return to the NHL (eventually). This is just to regroup and be even better, be more complete. He’s going to be a year older and more mature, so that’s the plan. Jarmo was talking to him a couple days ago. He’s really disappointed, but it’s one of those things in life that you can’t really control too much.”

What happens next for Alexandre Texier and the Blue Jackets?

Texier is now considered a suspended player, per the agreement between the Blue Jackets, NHL and NHLPA. The final year of his NHL contract will slide to 2023-24 and his rights will still belong to Columbus when he returns.


A source close to the situation told the Dispatch that Texier's final contract year will not slide an additional year to 2024-25 or later if he opts out of playing in the NHL again in 2023-24. That would make him as restricted free agent upon his return. Kekalainen, however, said the final year of the current deal will slide to whichever season Texier returns ― assuming he does comes back.


Either way, his NHL rights belong to Columbus.


“We knew since the time he left and wanted to stay there that this was a possibility," said Kekalainen, one of a handful of Blue Jackets representative who has regularly spoken with Texier since his departure. "We wanted him back, but this is just his decision. We worked hard all summer trying to convince him to come back and he made his decision. That’s ultimately up to him and we’re going to live by it.”


A source has confirmed reports out of Switzerland on Wednesday that Texier has agreed to a one-year contract to play for the ZSC Lions in Zurich this season. That places him in Switzerland's top professional division and just a short flight from his hometown in France.


Texier is the second Blue Jackets forward in the past eight months to leave Columbus and continue his professional career in Switzerland, following a path taken by Gregory Hofmann in January. Hofmann decided against returning to Columbus after heading to Switzerland in late December to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.


Hofmann's one-year contract was terminated and he signed a one-year pact with his former Swiss team, EV Zug. Hofmann and Texier became good friends while in Columbus together, but there is no indication that had anything to do with the latter's decision to stay in Europe.


"With mental health issues, I don’t know if you can pinpoint anything about his thinking," Kekalainen said of Texier. "It’s his well-being. We’ve seen a lot of guys step away from their careers in the last couple years, citing the same reasons, and like I said, there’s a lot more of it going under the surface, where the public doesn’t know how they’re struggling. But they’re struggling and working through it."


Mental well-being doesn't come with a recovery timeframe, but Kekalainen feels there are similarities in dealing with it.


"It’s just like a physical injury, basically," he said. "You just keep working at it and keep playing at the same time. They’re struggling, but they keep working through it. That’s what we were hoping (Texier would) do here, as well, but he wanted to be close to his family.”

How Texier's absence impacts the Blue Jackets

Texier's removal from the Jackets' depth chart is a loss, but it does provide more clarity up front plus an additional $1.525 million in salary-cap space for a team now pushing the NHL's $82.5 million upper limit. Trading Bjorkstrand cleared a path to get under the cap ceiling merely through roster cuts, but not having to count Texier's salary gives the Jackets more breathing room.


Using salaries posted on Cap Friendly, the Blue Jackets could carve out as much as $2.6 million in cap space by subtracting Texier's contract and trimming the roster to 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies. Adding a 14th forward or eighth defenseman would still leave Columbus more than a million under.


"We absolutely wanted (Texier) back this year, but if everything goes well and he has a great year there and keeps developing in the way we hope, then we have a player at a much better cap hit in ’23-24 than we would’ve if he had stayed here," Kekalainen said. "So, there could be, potentially, some advantage to it for us down the road, but we’ll have to see.”


Coach Brad Larsen also won't have to factor Texier into a crowded group of forwards seeking NHL ice time this season.


Starting training camp, which will begin in mid-September, the Blue Jackets could have as many as 10 forwards vying for their final five or six forward spots. Texier, who'd transformed into a productive two-way winger, would've taken one of them. His absence clears a path to increased ice time for players such as Kent Johnson, Yegor Chinakhov and Kirill Marchenko, not to mention a few forwards the Jackets hope will reach their top form soon ― including Emil Bemstrom, Liam Foudy and Trey-Fix Wolansky.


"Some of them are the same sage or just about the same age as him," Kekalainen said. "So, they’re going to get a good opportunity to get his ice time and some of the roles that he had with us.”


Time will tell if Texier eventually returns to compete for that same ice time.