Photo credit: Russian Machine Never Breaks
Evgeny Kuznetsov Blasts Players Union for Not Sticking Up For Him

Evgeny Kuznetsov Blasts Players Union for Not Sticking Up For Him

BY TJ TUCKER    SEPTEMBER 22, 2023  (2:37 PM)
It's not often you hear players badmouth their union publicly, but Evgeni Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals is doing just that. Kuznetsov recently appeared on a Russian podcast where he discussed his suspension in 2019 after cocaine was found in his system at the World Championships. He told the hosts the NHL initially wanted to suspend him for 20 games. Kuznetsov said he expected the NHLPA to defend him during an intense meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, but the union did nothing.

"We went in, sat down. Next to me sat these three c--ksuckers from the trade union. They told me they were gonna stick up for me. If Bettman says one word to us, we're gonna get involved and s--t. And then Bettman starts getting hot and heavy. He's going on and on and on and on and on. I'm sitting there, and I can't tell if he's serious or not. I apologized, said I came to you as a human being, alone, without an agent. Bettman said he respected that, thanked me. Sitting next to him was [Deputy Commissioner] Bill Daly. He said: 'I think you should be suspended for 20 games.' And I just started laughing. And those three people from the union don't say a word. I look at them, I don't understand, they should have stood up for me."

Kuznetsov said he sat for an hour while Bettman and Daly admonished him. He claims the union reps were completely silent.

"Ideally, people from the union should have stood up, started some kind of dialogue, somehow take my side. But as it turned out, I listened for an hour to how s---ty I was. It was over, I got in a cab and called my agent. Told him about the 20-game suspension, he laughed too. But when I imagined that I would get such a punishment, I got kind of depressed. Then the agent calls and says: 'Can we do three games of disqualification?' Two games is not enough, it's better to have three'. I said that it wasn't up to me. In the end we agreed to give only three games instead of 20 games of suspension."

Kuznetsov received a four-year ban from international competition from the IIHF. That ban has since ended, but it doesn't matter as Russia has been suspended from taking part in hockey tournaments on the world stage.

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