Kuznetsov is currently suspended from international play by the IIHF due to testing positive for a banned substance during the 2019 World Championship. Kuznetsov’s ban from the Russian national team was for four years and was supposed to last until June 12, 2023.
While Kuzy can still play in the NHL — he was suspended by Gary Bettman for three games — he cannot participate in any tournaments outside the league.
“The Russian National Team’s leadership, Alexei Zhamnov and Ilya Kovalchuk, is doing everything it possibly can to correctly resolve the situation with Kuznetsov. The Russian Hockey Federation has decided on this issue at the highest government level. There is an 80 percent chance that Kuznetsov will play at the Olympics,” a source told RIA Novosti.
It’s unclear why Kuznetsov’s ban would end early and what the Russian leadership could argue to get it overturned.
In August, Vladislav Tretiak, the president of the Russian Hockey Federation, said that Kuznetsov would not play in the 2022 Winter Olympics after some aspirational talk Kuzy’s four-year ban from the IIHF could be ended early.
“That would be great,” Tretiak said. “Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do. We tried but were told right away that’s not possible.”
In February, Kuzy said, via Sport24, “I have my agents and my lawyers. At the right time, they will talk to whoever they need to and will understand the situation. If FHR helps, that will mean a lot because without them nothing will happen. If they succeed, our team will gain a center who hopefully can still play.”
The Olympic tournament will be played from February 9 through 20. ROC plays Team Switzerland on February 9, Denmark on February, and the Czech Republic on February 12.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was named one of the first three members of the team in October. Will Kuznetsov be there, too? We can only conclude: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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