Sabres forward Zenon Konopka received a 20 game suspension on Thursday for violating the terms of the Performance Enhancing Substances Program.
Konopka appeared in 23 games for the Sabres this past season, collecting an assist and 33 penalty minutes. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and will sit the first 20 games wherever he does end up signing.
Konopka has taken responsibility for his actions and released this statement through the NHLPA:
“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.”
Konopka made $925,000 over the past season with Minnesota and Buffalo.