Seemingly out of nowhere, the Washington Capitals and their star center
Evgeny Kuznetsov found themselves in the middle of a social media firestorm.

Just after the conclusion of the IIHF World Championships, a video of the Capitals forward sitting next to some very suspicious lines of white powder and a rolled up bill was posted to Twitter and very quickly went viral. The original video was deleted, but as we all know, once something has been posted on social media, it can never truly be deleted. The video can be seen below:

Not once during the entire video does Kuznetsov touch the table or what’s on it. While it can’t be proven what that white substance is through the video alone, it sure looks like lines of cocaine with what’s probably a $100 bill rolled up next to it. It could be baking soda, but the video sure looks pretty incriminating.

Naturally, Kuznetsov denied using the drug and drugs of any kind in a statement issued to the Russian news outlet Sport-Express. The original statement was given in Russian, so here is the translation courtesy of Google:

Да, я видел, что в сети появилось это видео. Я не всегда имею отношение к тому, что происходит рядом со мной. Я никогда не употреблял наркотики и не собираюсь увлекаться этим. Если ко мне есть вопросы – я в любой момент готов пройти медицинскую экспертизу.

Этому видео год. Дело было летом 2018 года в Вегасе, когда мы выиграли Кубок Стэнли (с “Вашингтоном”). К прошедшему чемпионату мира это тем более не имеет никакого отношения. Я просто зашел к знакомым в номер. Когда увидел, что там у них происходит – незнакомые женщины, непонятные вещества на столе – позвонил другу и ушел оттуда как можно быстрее.

Жалко, что кто-то решил словить хайп только сейчас – на поражении сборной. Скрывать мне нечего, пусть это останется на совести того, кто разместил это видео.​

Yes, I saw this video appear online. I do not always have something to do with what is happening next to me. I have never used drugs and I am not going to get involved in this. If I have questions, I am ready to undergo a medical examination at any time.

This video year. It was the summer of 2018 in Vegas, when we won the Stanley Cup (with the “Washington”). By the past World Cup is all the more irrelevant. I just went to my friends in the room. When I saw what was happening there – unfamiliar women, strange substances on the table – he called a friend and left there as soon as possible.

It’s a pity that someone decided to catch the HYIP just now – at the defeat of the team. I have nothing to hide, let it remain on the conscience of the one who posted this video.

– Evgeney Kuznetsov, via Sport-Express and Google Translate

In his statement, Kuznetsov denied any drug use of any kind and said that he would be willing to take a drug test to prove it. However, he also said the video was taken last summer after the Capitals Stanley Cup victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. If he did partake in any festivities off camera, any traces would be long gone from his body by now.

In addition to this, he also tells a story that is easy to sympathize with. After what was most likely the biggest achievement of his life, he went to a friends room and was instantly in an uncomfortable situation with
“unfamiliar women and strange substances on the table”. According to Kuznetsov, he then called a friend (which can be seen in the video) and left as soon as possible.

If this is the case, it’s truly unfortunate that a video of Kuznetsov was taken and then posted as this could have some pretty serious implications on his career. If Kuznetsov was truly just in the room for a minute, was surprised by the situation and didn’t participate in what was going on, there’s no reason this video should have been posted and could only have been done with the knowledge that it could carry major repercussions for the Russian star.

Claus Andersen/Getty Images North America

In a statement to The Associated Press, the Capitals had this to say about the incident:

“We are aware of the video that surfaced on social media of Evgeny Kuznetsov. We are currently in the process of gathering facts and will have no further comment at this time.”

Washington Capitals Statement to The Associated Press

In addition to this, Bill Daly, the deputy commissioner of the NHL, said that it was too early for the NHL to issue a statement on the video and that no official investigation had begun yet.

“I hesitate to use the term “investigation” just because I think it’s a fairly ambiguous word. 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 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.”

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly

It will be interesting to see what the league and the team does in response to this video in the coming weeks. The video shows Kuznetsov next to whatever it is, but not even so much as touching the table it was on. In addition to this, any drug test done now wouldn’t show anything about the event, so the burden of proof as to Kuznetsov’s involvement seems to be on the investigation.

How does the NHL justify a suspension if they choose to give one and how would they justify not giving one if that’s the decision? In any case, the statement they give along with their decision will say a lot about the NHL feels about this sort of event and may even set a precedent for similar situations in the future.

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