New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Buffalo Sabres forward Zenon Konopka was suspended for 20 games due to a violation of the terms of the joint NHL/NHLPA performance enhancing substances program.
Under the terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, Konopka will be referred to the league and players' association's joint program for substance abuse and behavioral health for evaluation and treatment.
"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," said Konopka in a statement Thursday issued through the NHLPA's website.
"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, who split last season between the Minnesota Wild and the Sabres, totaled a goal and two assists in 59 games. He is due to be an unrestricted free agent in July, and the suspension will begin as soon as he is signed to a new contract.
The 33-year-old Ontario native has collected 12 goals and 18 assists with 1,082 penalty minutes over 346 contests for the Ducks, Blue Jackets, Lightning, Islanders, Senators, Wild and Sabres since 2005.