Evgeny Kuznetsov will be suspended for three games to start the NHL regular season, the league announced Saturday.
The Russian centre tested positive for cocaine use at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in May and was suspended from all international competition until 2023.
Kuznetsov released the following statement Saturday.
"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."
Originally, there was expected to be no NHL suspension from the positive drug test, and Kuznetsov had voluntarily joined the league’s education and counselling program and would be subject to a regular testing protocol.
Statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Evgeny Kuznetsov pic.twitter.com/e9MTrKb17I— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) August 23, 2019
This NHL suspension comes after Kuznetsov had a meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman to review his conduct on Monday.
Following the World Championship in May, a video circulated online that showed the Russian forward in a hotel room sitting in front of a table with what appeared to be two lines of cocaine. Kuznetsov denied any involvement with the substance or ever doing drugs himself, and the NHL deemed the matter “formally closed” after an in-person interview with Kuznetsov.
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