Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt suspended 20 games

Nate Schmidt-cropped
Nate Schmidt of the Las Vegas Golden Knights (Getty Images)

Nate Schmidt will start the regular season on the bench.

The NHL announced Sunday the Golden Knights defenseman has been suspended 20 games for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA performance enhancing substances program.

The team released a statement on the ban, expressing their opposition in the decision.

“While we respect the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program and are committed to its success, we strongly disagree with the suspension,” the statement read. “We firmly believe that the presence of a trace of the banned substance was accidental and unintentional. Based on our conversations with Nate, analysis from independent medical experts and sworn testimony from the parties involved, we believe it is clear Nate was not able to reasonably ascertain how the substance entered his body.

“Nate is an honest person with high moral character and great integrity. We will stand by him and support him during this time.”

Schmidt released a statement of his own, explaining he unintentionally ingested the “microscopic amount of a tainted substance” and has only taken supplements given by the team.

“While I support having a strong Performance Enhancing Substances Program in place for our sport, it is difficult to accept this suspension. I understand that I will miss these games, but I do not agree with the suspension and I will not accept being labeled a cheater,” Schmidt’s statement read, in part.

Schmidt, 27, logged 36 points in 76 games for the Golden Knights last season as the team made a run at the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season before falling to the Capitals in the championship series.