When you are a general manager preparing for the draft and free agency, seeing a video of one of your most prominent players in a hotel room sitting next to lines of an unidentified white powder is about the last thing you want to see.
That was how the summer kicked off for Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan when video of Evgeny Kuznetsov began circulating on social media.
“We're a little disappointed that he had put himself in that situation that could be interpreted in a number of different ways,” MacLellan said on a conference call Thursday in his first availability with the media since the incident.
The video was alarming not just because of the presence of the unidentified substance, but also because it came off a down year for Kuznetsov, one in which he managed only 21 goals and 72 points after scoring over a point per game in the 2018 postseason. That one could have had an effect on the other was an easy conclusion for fans and critics to jump to.
Kuznetsov, however, denied ever taking drugs and after an investigation by both the team and the league, it was determined he would receive no discipline. He also released a statement apologizing for the incident.
MacLellan said he was ultimately satisfied with Kuznetsov’s explanation and the findings of the investigation surrounding the video.
“I think we had a pretty thorough investigation by both the league and the club and a number of discussions with Kuzy about what happened and how he got in that spot and how to handle that going forward,” MacLellan said. “I think at the end of the day, we're comfortable on all the conversations we've had, we're comfortable what the league had to say about it.”
While Kuznetsov may have avoided any discipline for the incident, MacLellan still feels confident that it was a lesson learned for the dynamic center and noted that he has big expectations for him heading into the next season.
Said MacLellan, “I think Kuzy learned a lesson about putting himself in certain situations and we're going to move forward and we expect Kuzy to have a good year this year.”
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