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NHL clears Capitals’ Kuznetsov over video showing powder

May 31, 2019
FILE - In this April 24, 2019, file photo, Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92), of Russia, stands on the ice during the second period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes in Washington. The Capitals say they are aware of a video on social media that appeared to show Kuznetsov in a hotel room with lines of white powder on the table in front of him and verified it is him in the video. In a statement sent to The Associated Press by spokesman Sergey Kocharov, the team says it is in the process of gathering facts and will have no further comment at this time. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The NHL said Friday it has closed its review of Capitals star Evgeny Kuznetsov and a now-deleted video on social media that appears to show him in a hotel room with lines of white powder on a table in front of him.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league interviewed Kuznetsov among its “fact-finding steps.”

“While we certainly do not condone or endorse some of the decisions he made on the night in question, Mr. Kuznetsov’s account of the events that transpired aligns with other information we have been able to gather, and we have found no basis to question his representations with respect to what did — and what did not — occur,” Daly said. “We consider the matter formally closed.”

The video posted on Twitter carried a message saying it was why Russia lost in the world hockey championship semifinals. It showed Kuznetsov talking to someone and lines of white powder and American dollar bills can be seen on the table. Kuznetsov does not touch anything on the table in the 22-second video.

“While I have never taken illegal drugs in my life and career, I would like to publicly apologize to the Capitals, my teammates, our fans and everyone else for putting myself in a bad situation,” Kuznetsov said in a statement released by the team. “This was a hard lesson for me to learn.”

The 27-year-old Kuznetsov was Washington’s leading scorer in the playoffs when it won the Stanley Cup a year ago. This season, the Russian center had 72 points in 76 games but just one goal during a first-round loss to Carolina.

The Capitals said they met with Kuznetsov to discuss the video and are disappointed by his presence in it but accept his explanation for putting himself “in an unfortunate situation.” The team statement said the Capitals expect Kuznetsov to learn from this experience and uphold his and the organization’s standards for conduct.

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