Kuznetsov apologizes, says he will learn from NHL suspension

By 106.7 The Fan

Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov said he is sorry for his past behavior and said he will learn from this after the NHL suspended him for three games without pay following a positive cocaine test in May.

"I agreed to the suspension,” Kuznetsov said in his first time speaking with the media since the positive cocaine test. “I want to say thanks to this organization, to (the NHLPA), to the NHL for their support and to the fans. There’s a lot of people who are supporting me and I’m going to appreciate it, and as a hockey player, the only chance to say thanks to them, to prove on the ice. Growing as a person, I want to get better and I’m gonna learn from this, for sure.”

When asked if he regretted the wording of his May statement in which he denied using illegal drugs, Kuznetsov said, "That's a nice question," before laughing and adding: "I'm sorry but I cannot add anything more. Like I said, I want to move forward and the one thing I can do best is play hockey. I feel bad for my friends, for my teammates, for the organization, for the fans that they have to deal with this news."

Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov addresses the media on the National Hockey League's three game suspension pic.twitter.com/RyFP2cftTz

— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 14, 2019

The NHL announced the suspension Saturday, charging the Capitals froward for "inappropriate conduct." Kuznetsov will miss the Caps first three games. He was suspended by the IIHF for four-years after a positive cocaine test at the World Championships in May.

"That was a pretty hard summer for me," Kuznetsov said. "But you know me, I always smile and whatever happens in my life I always look forward."

When asked if he would speak to his teammates, Kuznetsov said that would "stay in the kitchen."

"You know me, I'm not a bad guy," he added.

Capitals head coach Todd Reirden spoke to the media Saturday and called this a "career-defining" period in Kuznetsov's life.

“He and I have had a number of conversations,” Reirden said. “This is a really, I think, it’s a career-defining time in his life. So I think he’s probably a little bit relieved to just be able to move past it and realized that the league has made the decision that they want to make, and they have made, and now we can get totally moving forward.

"But in our conversations, him and my relationship is one that it’s important that I am there for him, but I also make sure that I understand that he's accountable for what’s happened and realizing that how he reacts to this adversity is what’s important to me."

“I think it’s a career defining time in his life.” — Todd Reirden on Evgeny Kuznetsov. #Caps pic.twitter.com/8MhP6GcqYH

— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) September 14, 2019

"This is life-changing stuff that we have here," Reirden added.

The Capitals begin preseason Monday against the Blackhawks before opening the regular season in St. Louis against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues on Oct. 2. Washington will be without Kuznetsov that night and when they travel to play the Islanders and host the Hurricanes in their home opener.

Follow @BenKrimmel and @1067theFan on Twitter.