Sabres forward Zenon Konopka gets into a fight from a game earlier this season. f(AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
The NHL has suspended Buffalo Sabres forward Zenon Konopka for 20 games for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program, the league announced Thursday.
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.
Konopka's contract expires at conclusion of this season and his suspension will be served at the beginning of any new contract he signs. This season Konopka played in 59 games with the Sabres and the Minnesota Wild, recording one goal and two assists. During his nine year career, he has led the league in penalty minutes twice.
"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," Konopka said in a statement.SI WIRE: Canadiens’ Dale Weise rips Bruins’ Milan Lucic for making threat in handshake line
"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."