Earlier this offseason, Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov tested positive for cocaine at the World championship and was banned from the Russia national team for four years.
The IIHF shocked everyone when it announced that Kuznetsov had received a massive suspension from their organization after the Russian star had failed a recent drug test. Several months ago, a video surfaced online where Kuznetsov could clearly be seen around a white powdering substance that was cut into lines on a mirror, leading just about everyone to believe that he was in fact using cocaine in the video. The IIHF continued it investigation and revealed that, in spite of all his previous denials, Kuznetsov was in fact using cocaine and the IIHF hammered him with a massive four year ban from international competition as a result.
On Thursday, as training camp opened in Washington, captain Alex Ovechkin finally revealed how he digested the news of his teammate using and how he intends to support him moving forward.
“I think not as the captain, as a friend and a close friend, I think we should support him,” Ovechkin said at the team’s media day on Thursday. “He realize he makes mistake. Everybody makes mistake in life. . . sometimes the best thing is just support him and be at his side and don’t leave him alone. I think [beyond everything else] you have to be with him and when it’s a moment, you have to stay together, and as a group, all we’re going to do is support him and try to forget about it and hope he does not going to do the mistake again.”
“As soon as I saw [the news] I call him and I asked him if you need some help just to please let me know,” Ovechkin added. “I’m sure lots of guys do the same thing. It doesn’t matter if we play together or play on a different team. I think we have a good relationship to support each other in different situations. Unfortunately, he’s in that situation.”
Ovechkin isn’t the only Capitals player supporting his friend in this challenging situation. Dmitry Orlov also reached out to Kuznetsov over the summer, and goalie Braden Holtby had kind words for the forward.
“…That’s why hockey’s such a great sport. If a teammate’s down, you’ve got to pull him up or else your team’s not going to have any success… we need Kuzy, we need everyone. So that’s our goal.”
The Capitals and Kuznetsov are still awaiting the NHL’s decision on whether he will also get a suspension from the league. The forward met with commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday.
Head coach Todd Reirden didn’t comment on the situation, but added he’ll “have a lot to say” and be more comfortable discussing Kuznetsov following the league’s decision.