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NHL suspends Zenon Konopka 20 games for using performance enhancer

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy
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On the NHL's first day without a game since April 15, a major news story not involving a handshake line or water bottle broke.

The league announced that Buffalo Sabres forward Zenon Konopka has been suspended 20 games for violating the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program, which comes with mandatory entry into the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health.

In a statement released via the NHLPA, Konopka claimed that the product was a legal, over-the-counter one, but one that is on the program's banned list:

"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. 

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."

Shortly after the news was released, Konopka sent out this Tweet:

Konopka played 59 games between the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres during the 2013-14 season, registering three points. He's set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, so his suspension will kick in whenever he catches on with another NHL team. That might make it difficult for a team to consider adding the 33-year old.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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