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Browns have sights on Oregon's Chip Kelly

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Browns have sights on Oregon's Chip Kelly

CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns may strike quickly to get Chip Kelly, Oregon's coach who does everything in a hurry.

Kelly, whose up-tempo, fast-paced offense has captured the imagination of several NFL teams and maintained the Ducks' status as a national power, appears to be near the top of Cleveland's list of candidates to replace Pat Shurmur, fired earlier this week after going 9-23 in two seasons.

According to several reports, Browns CEO Joe Banner is already in Arizona and intends to interview Kelly, who is preparing the fifth-ranked Ducks for Thursday night's Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State. An interview could take place as early as Friday.

Kelly has been deflecting questions about his future all week. He did so again on Wednesday when he was asked if he expects to be contacted by NFL teams in the days ahead.

``I don't expect anything,'' said Kelly, 45-7 in four years at Oregon. ``I said this a million times. I'm never surprised by anything. I do not know what the future holds. I do know we have a football game tomorrow night and I'm going to be there.''

After that, his next stop isn't certain.

Kelly and Alabama's Nick Saban are the hottest commodities in the college game. It's possible that new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam may make a strong run at Saban, who worked in Cleveland as an assistant under Bill Belichick in the 1990s.

Saban would not be available for an interview until after next Monday's BCS title game, and the Browns could risk losing out on Kelly if they wait that long.

The Philadelphia Eagles are also believed to be interested in Kelly, who came close to taking Tampa Bay's job last year.

Browns safety T.J. Ward knows the 49-year-old Kelly as well as anyone. Ward, who walked on with the Ducks, believes his former coach is ready to make the leap to the pros.

``I think the players in the NFL would respect him and they will respect how he approaches you,'' Ward said. ``He lets you do your job. In college, he treated us like pros. I think that's what players respect and appreciate about him.''

It is not known if Haslam is with Banner in Arizona. Haslam said earlier this week that only he and Banner know which candidates may become Cleveland's sixth coach since 1999. The Browns, who have lost at least 11 games in each of the past five seasons, are not confirming any interviews.

On Tuesday, the Browns interviewed Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who said his meeting with the team was ``fantastic.''

Horton's interview satisfies the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to speak with a minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation positions.

Haslam and Banner made it clear that their next coach will have final say of the team's 53-man roster, a perk that could entice Kelly to leave Oregon. Kelly's pedal-to-the-metal offensive system is intriguing to the Browns and other teams who have already borrowed aspects of Oregon's no-huddle, go-go-go approach.

During the offseason, Kelly met with Belichick to share insight. Belichick has acknowledged using a few tips from Kelly, including the use of one-word play calls to speed up the Patriots offense.

``He's a great coach,'' Ward said. ``You can see what he's doing at Oregon. I think he has what it takes to be successful in this league. Whoever they pick, Chip is a great option. He's a great motivator. He comes in and he knows what he wants to do and he gets his players to play for him and play hard.

``He has a great scheme, great system. He's a high-energy coach.''

If Kelly comes to Cleveland, he may have to adjust his system to fit quarterback Brandon Weeden, who can throw the ball with anyone but doesn't have the speed to run a spread offense.

``I don't think I can run the zone read,'' Weeden said, smiling.

There are some who doubt Kelly's system can work in the NFL, arguing that it's a trendy gimmick that will be exposed by bigger, faster and stronger defenders. Kelly was asked if he thought it could work at the next level.

``Don't know, haven't been there,'' he said. ``There's a lot of ways to play football. Any coach is going to learn from other people and see how they can implement it in their system. Anything you do has to be personnel driven. You have to adapt to the personnel you have.''

Banner believes some elements of the spread offense are transferrable to the NFL.

``The game evolves and there is always some stealing from college into the pros and some stealing from going in the other direction,'' he said. ``You probably can't just take a pure NFL system and put it in college and have it work and you probably can't just take a purely clean current college system and put it in the pros and have it work.

``But that doesn't mean there are things that the right coach could integrate from both systems that could work very well at this level.''

Cleveland also must replace general manager Tom Heckert, who was fired after three seasons. However, Banner said it's possible the Browns may hire a player personnel director, giving the coach ultimate power.

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AP College Football Writer John Marshall in Scottsdale, Ariz. contributed to this report.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov accepts IIHF suspension for cocaine while Capitals, NHL lay out next steps

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Evgeny Kuznetsov accepts IIHF suspension for cocaine while Capitals, NHL lay out next steps

After news broke of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s four-year suspension by the IIHF for testing positive for cocaine, the Capitals center released a statement Friday accepting the suspension and expressing his regret for the situation 

Said Kuznetsov:

"Recently, the IIHF notified me that, due to a positive test for a banned substance, I would be suspended from international competition for four years. I have made the decision to accept this penalty. Representing my country has always been so close to my heart and something I take so much pride in. Not being able to put that sweater on for four years is very hard to take. I have disappointed so many people that are important to me, including my family, teammates and friends. From the first day I took the ice in D.C., the Washington Capitals organization and our fans have been nothing but great to me and my family. I feel absolutely terrible for letting you down. I realize that the only way I can win you back is to take ownership of my situation and my actions from this point forward."

The question now is what happens next?

Both the Capitals and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly also released statements on Friday saying that Kuznetsov “has voluntarily sought help through the education and counseling program provided for in the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement and has agreed to a regular testing protocol relating to his involvement with that program.”

In addition, Kuznetsov will meet with commissioner Gary Bettman “to discuss his situation and review his conduct prior to the start of Training Camp preceding the 2019-20 season.”

While the positive test has resulted in a four-year suspension with the IIHF, it is unclear if any such discipline will be levied on Kuznetsov by the NHL.

Said Daly, “Unlike the IIHF, cocaine is not considered a performance-enhancing drug and is therefore not a Prohibited Substance under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.  Instead, it is considered a drug of abuse that is tested for and for which intervention, evaluation and mandatory treatment can occur in appropriate cases.”

Daly left the door open for NHL discipline as he concluded, “We intend to reserve further comment on any additional actions that may or may not be taken with respect to today’s announcement (disciplinary or otherwise) pending the completion of the Commissioner’s meeting with Mr. Kuznetsov.”

The Capitals, meanwhile, expressed support for Kuznetsov saying “we are committed to ensuring he has the necessary support required to work through this situation.”

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Evgeny Kuznetsov receives IIHF suspension after testing positive for cocaine

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Evgeny Kuznetsov receives IIHF suspension after testing positive for cocaine

Evgeny Kuznetsov has been suspended for four years by the IIHF after testing positive for cocaine, the organization announced Friday. The test was found in a sample taken on May 26, 2019, at the World Championship.

The suspension will last through June 12, 2023.

A video posted on Twitter in May showed Kuznetsov in a hotel room next to lines of an unidentified white powder. The Capitals center released a statement afterward saying that he has “never taken illegal drugs in my life and career.” He also claimed the video was from 2018 in Vegas after Washington won the Stanley Cup.

After a review, both the NHL and the Capitals accepted Kuznetsov’s explanation of the situation and considered the matter closed.

A team official told NBC Sports Washington on Friday that the team does intend to make an official comment on the news of Kuznetsov’s suspension.

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