The Vegas Golden Knights will be without the services of one of their top blueliners to begin the 2018-19 campaign.
It was announced Sunday morning that Nate Schmidt has been suspended for 20 games for “violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program,” according to a statement released by NHL Public Relations.
Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt suspended 20 games. Wow. pic.twitter.com/wBf7FlS5Qz
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) September 2, 2018
The Golden Knights have also released a statement on the matter. Following conversation with Schmidt and independent medical experts, they “strongly disagree with the suspension” as he is “not able to reasonably ascertain how the substance entered his body.”
Finally, the 27-year-old came out himself to comment on the situation through the NHLPA. In his statement, he makes it clear that he believes that the unnamed substance entered his system via “environmental contamination” and that he “will not accept being labelled a cheater”.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 2, 2018
Whether he meant to take this banned substance or not, this is a real shame as Schmidt is coming off a career year. He led all Vegas skaters in ice time last season while his 76 regular season games, five goals, 31 assists and 36 points were all career-highs.
He didn’t stop there though as he remained part of the Golden Knights’ backbone defensively during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. He scored three and collected seven points in 20 postseason contests. It’s too bad to think that these results may now be tainted in the view of the public by this announcement.
The Golden Knights gave him a really good situation last year and he took advantage. During his first four seasons with the Washington Capitals, two of which were split with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Schmidt seemed to consistently be on the outside looking in.
Despite his strong skating ability and offensive upside, he only averaged about 16 minutes of ice time a night while in Washington. The Capitals’ depth on the back end hurt his ability to make an impact on a consistent basis.
The Golden Knights selecting him in their expansion draft really opened the door for the blueliner. Rules are rules though and I believe that there in no place in sport for cheaters.
If he did knowingly take a banned substance, I would be happy to see that same door hit him on the way out.
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