Valentin Zykov

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Golden Knights’ Zykov suspended 20 games for PED violation

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The NHL announced on Thursday afternoon that Vegas Golden Knights forward Valentin Zykov has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league’s performance enhancing substance program.

Along with the suspension, Zykov is now subject to mandatory referral to the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health for evaluation and possible treatment.

The 24-year-old Zykov has appeared in seven games this season, recording two assists while averaging 11 minutes of ice-time per game.

The Golden Knights released a statement in support of the league’s decision.

“We were notified by the NHL and NHLPA that Valentin has violated the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. We monitor the nutrition, supplement intake, and overall diet of our athletes on a continual basis throughout our entire season. Valentin knowingly used a banned substance without the consent, recommendation or knowledge of our team. We support the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program and respect the decision here.”

Zykov also issued a statement via the NHLPA.

“I’ve been informed that I am being suspended for 20 games under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.  While I haven’t been able to discover how I tested positive, I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and will accept this penalty.  I want to apologize to my family, my teammates, and the Golden Knights organization and fans.  I will work hard during my suspension to ensure that I put myself in the best possible position to contribute to my team when my suspension is over.”

This is the second time in as many years that a Golden Knights player has been suspended for a PED violation after defenseman Nate Schmidt also missed 20 games a year ago.

In that instance, the Golden Knights strongly disagreed with the results and the suspension. It was reported back in September that Schmidt has been working with the NHLPA to help reform the NHL’s current drug testing program in an effort to raise the minimum standard for suspension. Regarding his suspension, Schmidt argued that an “environmental contamination” was the reason for his failed test, and that the amount that was found was the equivalent of a pinch of a salt in an Olympic sized swimming pool.

Schmidt appealed his suspension only to have it be upheld.

The fact the Golden Knights were so strong in their statement of support for Zykov’s suspension is a strong sign that Zykov does not have the same argument that Schmidt did, and that any appeal would be unlikely to be won.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

WATCH LIVE: Golden Knights, Sharks renew their rivalry

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Wednesday’s matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks. Coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Golden Knights were defeated by the Sharks in OT of Game 7 in Round 1 last April after a controversial major penalty was called on Vegas’ Cody Eakin for a cross-check to Joe Pavelski in the third period with the Knights leading 3-0. San Jose scored four times on the man-advantage, while Vegas tallied a goal late to force overtime. Barclay Goodrow won it for San Jose in OT and secured one of the most improbable comebacks in postseason history, leading the Sharks into Round 2.

On Tuesday, Sharks forward Evander Kane was suspended three games for physical abuse of an official, stemming from an altercation with Vegas’ Deryk Engelland in San Jose’s final preseason game. Kane swung his stick at Engelland in response to a cross-check, but got a piece of the ref in the process. Then, the ref grabbed Kane and both fell to the ice. Kane appeared to shove the ref while getting back to his feet.

“I get kicked out of the game for getting jumped from behind by a referee,” said Kane. “I’ve never seen a ref take five strides. If you look at his face, he’s getting all this power and he’s trying to drive me into the ice, which is what he did. That’s unbelievable. Talk about abuse of an official? How about abuse of a player? It’s an absolute joke.”

The Sharks and Knights open the season with a home and home series. They open the season Wednesday in Vegas, before meeting again on Friday in San Jose. Vegas is 5-1-2 all-time against San Jose in the regular season. They’ve split their only two playoff meetings.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

WHAT: San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights
WHERE: T-Mobile Arena
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 10:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Sharks-Golden Knights stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

SHARKS
Timo MeierLogan Couture – Danil Yurtaikin
Lean Bergmann – Tomas HertlLukas Radil
Marcus SorensenJoe ThorntonKevin Labanc
Melker Karlsson – Barclay Goodrow – Dylan Gambrell

Marc-Edouard VlasicBrent Burns
Brenden DillonDalton Prout
Mario Ferraro – Tim Heed

Starting goalie: Martin Jones

GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Jonathan MarchessaultWilliam KarlssonReilly Smith
Max PaciorettyCody GlassMark Stone
Brandon PirriPaul StastnyValentin Zykov
William CarrierTomas NosekRyan Reaves

Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt
Jon MerrillShea Theodore
Nick Holden – Deryk Engelland

Starting goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury

Brendan Burke and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire will have the call of Sharks-Golden Knights from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Will Evander Kane be suspended for abuse of official?

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(UPDATE: Kane has been suspended three games and he will not appeal.)

There always seems to be fireworks when the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks play. Whether it’s a playoff game or regular season contest, something seems to happen. The rivalry doesn’t even slow down in the preseason anymore. On Sunday, Sharks forward Evander Kane was ejected for abuse of an official.

Before Kane had a run-in with linesman Kiel Murchison, he and Golden Knights forward Valentin Zykov dropped the gloves. So Kane, who had already been thrown out of games at T-Mobile Arena twice heading into last night, wasn’t in a particularly good mood. Of course, we also know about the beef he and Ryan Reaves had in the playoffs last season. But now, he may be facing supplemental discipline for this latest incident.

Kane gets tangled up with Deryk Engelland. There’s some words and shoves exchanged and then Kane whacks Engelland with his stick, but appears to also make contact with Murchison. The linesman gets in between the two players, grabs Engelland Murchison grabs Kane forcefully and they end up falling over. The two get up and Kane gives the referee a shove.

The Sharks forward was eventually kicked out of the game and he clearly wasn’t happy about it.

“I get kicked out of the game for getting jumped from behind by a referee. I’ve never seen a ref take five strides,” Kane said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “If you look at his face, he’s getting all this power and he’s trying to drive me into the ice, which is what he did. That’s unbelievable.

”Talk about abuse of an official? How about abuse of a player? It’s an absolute joke.”

Slashes happen all the time in hockey, but if you’re going to go down that road you need to make sure you’re not going to hit an innocent bystander, which is what Kane did. Clearly, the official was fed up of Kane’s antics and he was frustrated about being slashed. Should the referee be grabbing a player like that? Probably not. But there’s no excuse for whacking him either.

According to the NHL rulebook, there are three categories when it comes to abuse of an official:

Category I: “Any player who deliberately strikes an official and causes injury or who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official with intent to injure, or who in any manner attempts to injure an official shall be automatically suspended for not less than twenty (20) games.”

Category II: “Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner (excluding actions as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten (10) games.”

Category III: “Any player who, by his actions, physically demeans an official or physically threatens an official by (but not limited to) throwing a stick or any other piece of equipment or object at or in the general direction of an official, shooting the puck at or in the general direction of an official, spitting at or in the general direction of an official, or who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.”

Any time a player is tossed from a game for abuse of an official, the referees and linesmen will meet after the game to determine the category of the offense. The referees then give verbal and written reports to the league and the process begins.

It’s hard to argue that Kane intentionally tried to injure the linesman in this case and he also wasn’t applying physical force to an official to get free from him. This incident looks like it would fall in the second category. Back in 2017, Anaheim Ducks forward Antoine Vermette was suspended 10 games for slashing a referee off a face-off.

The biggest difference between Vermette’s slash and Kane’s slash, is that Vermette knew exactly what he was doing. Unfortunately for Kane, he also threw in the shove after he got taken down. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the NHL handles this situation. Will they hit Kane with a 10-game suspension for an incident that occurred during the preseason? Does the linesman dragging Kane to the ice play a factor in the final outcome of the suspension?

The NHL needs to be extremely careful with how they handle this incident. The linesman probably reacts out of frustration here, but Kane had been mixing it up throughout the game.

The league can’t let players get away with stuff like this. It will set an ugly precedent.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

How will Vegas manage Marc-Andre Fleury’s workload?

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Vegas Golden Knights. 

Let’s ponder three questions facing the Golden Knights:

1. How will Gerard Gallant manage Marc-Andre Fleury‘s workload? 

It has to happen at some point, right? Father Time catching up with Vegas’s beloved second son.

Fleury will be 35 before the season is two months old. He had 61 starts last season and it’s quite likely that he receives just as many this season, barring injury.

It just seems that the team isn’t ready to given Malcolm Subban more work. They used him heavily in March and Fleury got some much-needed rest before the playoffs began, but Subban didn’t set the world on fire with his play.

Finding the right workload will still winning games will be a test for Gallant, who hasn’t been as worried in the past about all the starts Fleury has gotten.

But consider this: only two goalies have ever started 60 games and won a Stanley Cup. Fleury, ironically, was one of them, but that was more than a decade ago now.

2. Can they mitigate some of their losses? 

Nikita Gusev, Colin Miller, Erik Haula, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare… all gone.

Gusev stands out for the mere fact of the hype train that followed him. The Golden Knights went out of their way to pluck him from the Kontinental Hockey League where he was regarded as one of the best players — if not the best — not playing in the NHL.

Unable to work out a deal that worked under the tight salary cap in Vegas, he was shipped off to the New Jersey Devils.

Speaking of moves relating to the cap, Colin Miller and all his great puck possession skills were traded off to Buffalo in an effort to find cap relief. Miller is an excellent puck-moving defenseman that will be missed on the blue line.

[MORE: 2018-19 Review | X-factorUnder Pressure]

And then there are bottom-six guys in Erik Haula and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Haula’s injury-riddled season limited him to just 15 games. In 2017-18, however, he has 29 goals and 55 points. Bellemare was a solid fourth-liner, meanwhile.

3. Speaking of bottom six, what will that look like? 

Alex Tuch had a career year with 20 goals and 32 assists and will be counted on to provide that secondary scoring outside of Vegas’s stacked top two lines.

Where the other pieces fall into place will be decided at training camp, although it’s probably a safe bet that Cody Eakin will center that third line, at least to start. That would allow for Cody Glass to work his way into the NHL fold on as the team’s fourth-line center.

But you probably don’t want Glass, a very skilled prospect, on the same line as Ryan Reaves.

If Glass has a solid camp, perhaps Eakin gets pushed down to the fourth line and Glass is given Tuch on his right and one of William Carrier, Valentin Zykov or Brandon Pirri to his right.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Critical three weeks for Sens; Should Wild buy or sell?

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Mitch Marner‘s agent isn’t impressed with the offers the Maple Leafs have made to his client. (Toronto Star)

• Talks between Matt Duchene and the Ottawa Senators are picking up, but signing him before the trade deadline is still the priority. (Ottawa Citizen)

• Sticking with the Sens theme, their future might change in a big way if they’re forced to trade Duchene, Mark Stone and/or Ryan Dzingel. (Sportsnet)

• Last night, Paul Maurice became just the sixth head coach in NHL history to be behind the bench for 1,500 games. That’s an impressive number, but the journey hasn’t been easy. (TSN)

• Caps goalie Braden Holtby admitted that he’s already begun thinking about becoming a free agent in 2020. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

• If they Islanders end up making the playoffs, they should play their home games at Nassau Coliseum. (The Sports Daily)

• Wild GM Paul Fenton hasn’t committed to being a buyer or a seller at this year’s trade deadline. (Twin Cities)

• The fine folks at Broad Street Hockey had a chat with former NHLer Daniel Carcillo, who admitted that he has “brain damage” and “brain injury symptoms”. (Broad Street Hockey)

• Katie Guay became the first woman to referee in the Beanpot Tournament. “There’s a lot of females that came before me that certainly had the skill to get out there, it’s just they didn’t get the chance. So I feel like I’m doing it for all of them that didn’t have the opportunity, and hoping to pave some more paths for the younger officials coming up the ranks.” (NHL.com)

• The Golden Knights should continue to give Valentin Zykov an opportunity to play on their top line. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• The Oilers will gladly welcome Andrej Sekera back into their lineup, but it will put them in a tough spot with the salary cap. (Oilers Nation)

• An easy schedule could help the Vancouver Canucks sneak into the postseason. (Nucks Misconduct)

• The St. Louis Blues should forget about being sellers at the trade deadline now that they’re so close to a Wild Card spot. (The Hockey News)

• The Tampa Bay Lightning will continue to get every team’s best shot, which is just fine with them (Tampa Times)

• Check out the trailer for the movie “Goalie,” which is based on Terry Sawchuk’s life:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.