As you all know by now, Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov tested positive for cocaine at the World championship and has been banned from the Russia team for four years.
However, one of his teammate refused to turn his back on the Russian forward: Tom Wilson made that clear on Tuesday at BioSteel Camp in Toronto.
“We’re going to have his back,” Wilson told Sportsnet at BioSteel Camp in Toronto Tuesday.
“Hopefully he can get through it. It’s never something you like to see in the media, but I’m sure he’ll learn. He’ll grow as a person and a player. We’re focused on Capitals. Whatever happens with the international stuff, it’s none of our business.
“I know he takes a lot of pride in playing for his country.”
Kuznetsov failed a doping test at the IIHF World Championship in Slovakia after a sample was taken on May 26, the day the Russians defeated the Czech Republic to take bronze. He was later suspended for four years, but is not expected to get banned in the NHL, seeing that the suspension does not stop him from playing in the league, which classifies cocaine as a drug of abuse rather than a performance-enhancing doping product.
Wilson is aware that punishment could come in later for his teammate, but refuses to let it worry him ahead of the 2019-20 season.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Wilson, who has yet to speak with his teammate since the news broke. “It’s kind of a sticky situation, but I’m sure it’ll all be handled.
“If he’s in a Caps uniform Game 1, he’ll play. If not, we’ll deal with it.”
Wilson is the first Caps’ teammate to support Kuznetsov in this situation. Former teammate Brett Connolly, who signed as a free agent this summer with Florida, also had good things to say about the Russian star.
“I love Kuzy,” Connolly told Sportsnet. “He’s going to handle that in his own way. It’s definitely disappointing for him.
“He’ll deal with it. He’s a good person, a good family man. He’s got a little girl and they had another baby [a boy, Fedor, in June]. He’ll get through it.
“That’s life: You make mistakes, and you own up to them. He owned up to it. He knows. I love Kuzy. He’s an amazing player and really fun to be around. He really helped me the last two years, and he’ll be fine.”