“We are aware of the video that surfaced on social media of Evgeny Kuznetsov,” a Capitals spokesman said in a statement Monday. “We are currently in the process of gathering facts and will have no further comment at this time.”
The NHL has a relatively lax policy regarding recreational drugs compared with other major American professional sports leagues. Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NBA prohibit cocaine use and punish players who test positive — regardless of the quantity found in their system. NHL players who test positive with high levels of cocaine and marijuana may be contacted by the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program and recommended to a treatment program, but it’s not required. Players are tested at least twice, once in training camp and once in the regular season, and they can be subject to random testing during the regular season and playoffs.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Monday that the league needs “more fact-gathering” before deciding on its next steps, such as potential disciplinary action.
“I hesitate to use the term ‘investigation’ just because I think it’s a fairly ambiguous word,” Daly said. “Obviously, we have to understand the facts and circumstances and what happened, and that involves appropriate follow-up with the appropriate people. I wouldn’t call it a formal investigation; we want to know what’s going on. ... He seems to have acknowledged that he was in that room with whatever it is, but I don’t know what whatever it is, and he claims not to have used whatever it is, so on that basis, I’m not going to convict him of anything."
Kuznetsov was the Capitals’ leading scorer in their run to the Stanley Cup a year ago, registering 12 goals and 20 assists in 24 games. He had 21 goals and 51 assists in 76 games this season.