Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky gave fellow countryman and Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov his full support in an Instagram post on Wednesday, five days after Kuznetsov was suspended for four years by the IIHF for using a prohibited substance.
“I want to support [Kuznetsov]. It’s tough situation for him and his family. I agree, that history doesn’t look good at all but it doesn’t means that we have to put him down,” Bobrovsky said. “People often forget that sportsman also humans and they also could make a mistakes. Let’s better give him some support. He made so many good things for his hometown Chelyabinsk and so many good things for hockey and he will make even more good things in the future. Stay strong, man, make right decisions and keep moving forward 💪👊.”
Kuznetsov has not attended any of the Capitals’ informal skates since the news of his suspension by the IIHF for four years after he tested positive for cocaine broke on Friday morning. The 27-year old deleted all of his Instagram posts two days prior to the announcement.
Kuznetsov will meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman prior to Thursday, September 12, when the Capitals open training camp for the 2019-20 season.
A video of Kuznetsov with cocaine became public in May during the 2019 IIHF World Championship. Both the Capitals and NHL investigated the incident and did not take any action against Kuznetsov.
Teammate Tom Wilson and former teammate Brett Connolly, who signed with the Panthers on July 1, also expressed their support for Kuznetsov when they spoke to the media at the annual BioSteel Camp in Toronto on Tuesday.
“We’re going to have his back,” Wilson, who seemed unsure of Kuznetsov’s status to start the season, said to Sportsnet’s Luke Fox. “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 don’t know too many of the details, but I just heard what you heard,” Wilson continued. “He’s a great teammate and it’s unfortunate. I know he takes a lot of pride in playing for his country, so wishing him the best with resolving the situation. And obviously, we’re just focused on the Capitals and whatever happens there. We’ll have his back.”
“I love [Kuznetsov],” Connolly said in an interview with 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,” Connolly continued. “He’s got a little girl and they had another baby. 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 [Kuznetsov]. He’s an amazing player and really fun to be around. He really helped me the last two years, and he’ll be fine.”
By Harrison Brown