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NHL suspends Zenon Konopka for 20 games for violating substance abuse program (i.e. positive test)

Unsettling news from the NHL:

Buffalo Sabres forward Zenon Konopka has been suspended for 20 games for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension is accompanied by mandatory referral to the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health for evaluation and possible treatment.

The player's contract expires with the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. The term of the suspension will be served at the beginning of any new contract.

The National Hockey League will have no further comment on this matter.

Well the NHLPA released an immediate...Rebuttal?


"I deeply regret that I have tested positive for a prohibited substance in violation of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.  I accept full responsibility for this error. As a professional athlete I am responsible for what I put in my body, and I am to blame for this mistake.

I want to make it clear that this violation occurred because I ingested a product that can be purchased over-the-counter and which, unknown to me, contained a substance that violated the program.  Unfortunately, I did not take the necessary care to ensure that the product did not contain a prohibited substance.  I want to stress, however, that I did not take this substance for the purpose of enhancing my athletic performance. 

I apologize to my teammates and to the Buffalo Sabres organization, as well as to my friends and family. I have learned a great deal from this experience, something I hope to be able to share with younger players.  I will accept this suspension and continue to work hard to prepare for the 2014-15 season."

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, zenon+konopka


PuckStopsHere's avatar

What is missing is what he took.  Are they trying to hide that information from us?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/15/14 at 03:22 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

It’s honestly none of our business what he took.

Or, more to the point, it’s not the NHL’s or NHLPA’s right to release such information, as to do so without Konopka’s permission violates a right that his union didn’t sign away in the CBA.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/15/14 at 03:44 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Here’s what I genuinely don’t get:

You’re a pro athlete… and you don’t have the sense/situational awareness to clear substances with your trainers first before you take them?

It’s going to be brutal for him now.  Brutal.  Some team would have to sign him as a UFA knowing he’s unavailable for 20 games.  And given his status as a 4th liner type for most teams anyways…. might mean his NHL career is now over.

Which makes it even all the more baffling how you can make a “mistake” like this.

Posted by Primis on 05/15/14 at 04:37 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I should also add that “It was over the counter, I didn’t know” has become the equivalent of “My Twitter account was hacked”.

Posted by Primis on 05/15/14 at 04:39 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

Saying it was accidental and was OTC is par for the course. Too bad he didn’t run with something a little more dramatic or humorous, along the lines of Alberto Contador’s infamous “contaminated Spanish meat” explanation for the clen in his system.

Without having the faintest idea what he got popped for, brawlers using pain killers (i.e. opiates) for both physical and psychological relief, is nothing new (nor is using AAS to put on size). I was friends with a guy that ended up having to fight to stay in the league, and he ultimately walked away from it a few years early; nice, quiet guy and he hated his role so much…it definitely messes with some of them pretty seriously.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 05/15/14 at 05:50 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/15/14 at 06:50 PM ET

Cool addition to the conversation. You’ve really brought a breadth of knowledge and an interesting perspective to this topic. You must be very proud of yourself.

Who pissed in your Cheerios?

It’s going to be brutal for him now.  Brutal.  Some team would have to sign him as a UFA knowing he’s unavailable for 20 games.  And given his status as a 4th liner type for most teams anyways…. might mean his NHL career is now over.

Tyler Dellow brought up an interesting point on this and about how it’s perhaps not a death sentence on his career.

What Zenon Konopka did today was take full responsibility while spreading the message that he’s willing to do anything it takes to stay in the NHL. Guys like him are a dime-a-dozen. Konopka didn’t take the smartest route, but he got himself noticed today. Lots of rehabilitated guys have been given another chance. Signing him would be an opportunity to get one of those “heart and soul” idiots on your club who you know is willing to go to potentially stupid lengths to help you.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/15/14 at 06:57 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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