For the second consecutive season, the Vegas Golden Knights will lose a key piece for a good chunk of games as middle-six forward Valentin Zykov was suspended on Thursday after testing positive for a banned substance.
Last year, it was blue-liner Nate Schmidt getting popped and subsequently sitting out a quarter of the season. Schmidt and his agent adamantly denied that he had any intent or knowledge or taking anything that would have triggered the positive test, and the team stood firmly behind him.
"While we respect the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program, we strongly dispute the suspension,” read the Golden Knight’s statement on Schmidt’s suspension. “We firmly believe that the presence of a trace of the banned substance was accidental and unintentional.
Different players and circumstances, but the club’s statement this time around was a little less endorsing.
It’s a scathing indictment of one of their own, and I can’t fault the team one bit. It’s very likely the Golden Knights were completely unaware of Zykov’s affinity for banned substances, whatever they may prove to be.
Whether they had any knowledge or not, the Golden Knights blatantly throwing Zykov under the bus is significant. To say they weren’t aware that Zykov was taking a banned substance is one thing, but to claim — with certainty, via a public statement — that he knowingly used the substance without their consent? Oh boy.
Making things even weirder, Zykov released his own statement through the NHLPA claiming he hasn’t been able to figure out how he tested positive.
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