NHL clears way for banned Russian player to pursue contract
Danis Zaripov tested positive for masking agent while playing in KHL last year
Russian winger Danis Zaripov has been cleared to pursue an NHL contract after being banned by the Kontinental Hockey League and International Ice Hockey Federation for doping.
The NHL said in a statement that Zaripov was cleared in part because pseudoephedrine is not on its prohibited substances list and that he was not allowed to testify at his hearing. The league said it approved Zaripov's status after he testified last week and it reviewed evidence related to the suspension.
"I look forward to continuing my professional hockey playing career in North America, and today I am very grateful to the senior management of the NHL for its decision, which provides me the opportunity to do so," Zaripov said in a statement.
"Even though I now have a chance to play in the best league in the world, I plan to continue my appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (to) prove my right case and clear my name."
KHL contract terminated
The 36-year-old player had his KHL contract terminated and was banned by the IIHF until 2019. Agent Dan Milstein said in a phone interview that he waited to speak to teams out of respect for the NHL during his application for eligibility, adding, "Beginning today, we're open for business."
"We're going to be talking to a number of teams," Milstein said. "Danis wants to win. He's a winner at heart. He's won at every level."
Zaripov won the KHL's Gagarin Cup four times and the world hockey championship three times. He represented Russia at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
After a 45-point season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Zaripov had 15 goals and seven assists in 18 playoff games.
"Danis Zaripov has a reputation in Russia what Pavel Datsyuk was here," Milstein said. "He's an outstanding, world-class player."