Capitals' Evgeny Kuznetsov Suspended 3 Games for Positive Cocaine Test

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2019

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92), of Russia, stands on the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The NHL announced Saturday that Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov will be suspended for the first three games of the 2019-20 season for "inappropriate conduct."

Kuznetsov, who received a four-year ban from international hockey after testing positive for cocaine May 26 at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, will not appeal the NHL suspension.

The Capitals provided a statement from the forward:

"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."

Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post reported that the 27-year-old Russia native "maintains that he did not take drugs" despite the positive test and the presence of a social media video showing him near lines of a white, powdery substance.

"He's aware that it's a big mistake in his mind, and he's remorseful," Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said Thursday. "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 scored six points (two goals and four assists) in 10 games for Russia in the World Championships before the failed drug test.

The 2010 first-round pick tallied 72 points (21 goals and 51 assists) across 76 appearances for the Capitals during the 2018-19 campaign. That ranked third on the team behind Alex Ovechkin (89) and Nicklas Backstrom (74). He's recorded 337 points in 416 career regular-season games.

Lars Eller figures to elevate into a top-six role for Washington until Kuznetsov returns.

He'll be eligible to play his first game of the new season Oct. 8 against the Dallas Stars.

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