Per the NHL, Evgeny Kuznetsov has been suspended without pay for the first three games of the season by the League for “inappropriate conduct”, a punishment that the Caps’ center will not appeal.
Kuznetsov issued the following statement:
“I have decided to accept the NHL’s suspension today. I am once again sorry that I have disappointed my family, my teammates, and the Capitals organization and fans. I promise to do everything in my power to win you back with my actions both on and off the ice. I also understand that I am fortunate to have an opportunity to make things right. Thanks to the Capitals, NHL, and NHLPA, I have taken many steps in the right direction and I’m confident that I will continue on that path. I am grateful for everyone’s support and I’m looking to move forward from this point. While I can appreciate that people may have additional questions, I will not be commenting further on this matter.”
After testing positive for cocaine earlier this summer and accepting a four-year ban from international hockey, Kuznetsov voluntarily began an education and counseling program, which includes regular drug testing. He then met with Commissioner Gary Bettman last week to determine whether there would be any supplemental discipline, which was handed down earlier today.
While cocaine is not a banned substance under the current CBA, the meeting and subsequent punishment stems from Kuznetsov’s actions earlier this summer. Per the Post’s Isabelle Kurshudyan:
Kuznetsov’s meeting with Bettman centered on how he apparently misled league officials in late May, when a video of Kuznetsov sitting beside two lines of a white powdery substance during a team trip to Las Vegas during the season circulated on social media. At the time, Kuznetsov issued a statement denying ever using drugs, and the Capitals and NHL issued separate statements deeming the matter closed after conducting their own investigations and accepting his explanation.
Kuznetsov’s teammates and GM Brian MacLellan have all pledged support for him this week:
“I think he’s aware that it’s a big mistake in his mind, and he’s remorseful,” MacLellan said. “He knows he made a mistake, and he wants to move on from it. He wants to take responsibility for it but also wants to move on.”
Kuznetsov will be eligible to return to the lineup on October 8 when the Caps host the Dallas Stars.