When Wild forward Eric Fehr heard the news, that his former teammate with the Capitals, Nate Schmidt, had been suspended 20 games for violating the NHL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, he triple-checked the vitamins and proteins he ingests.
“You just have to make sure you have the right stuff,” Fehr said. “Sometimes you can have the right stuff and if it’s contaminated, you’re in trouble. So you just gotta be extra careful.”
That was the lesson that reverberated around the league after Schmidt was penalized in September, a cautionary tale that the Wild was reminded of when it hosted a Schmidt-less Golden Knights squad Saturday during the team’s home opener at Xcel Energy Center.
“Nate’s a great guy,” said Fehr, who played with the St. Cloud native and Gophers alum in Washington from 2013 to 2015. “He’s an honest guy. I don’t think he’d knowingly take anything. It’s scary for all of us because we’re all in the same boat, and we’re all watching what we take. It kind of makes you feel like it could happen to anyone.”
Schmidt was banned for the first 20 games of the regular season without pay after testing positive, a result the 27-year-old responded to vehemently in a statement that said he did not intentionally take a banned substance, taking only the supplements supplied by the team and explained that he “could not have received any performance enhancement benefit from the trace amount that inadvertently got into my system at a level that was far too small to have any effect.
“This low amount was consistent with environmental contamination that I could not possibly have prevented.”
Players are educated before each season about what they’re allowed to take and what’s prohibited. Teams are screened three times during the season, Fehr said, and players can be randomly selected for testing at any time. The most Fehr’s ever been tested in a year is five times.
“I think hockey players in general are pretty honest guys, and we’re not really looking for that edge,” Fehr said. “I’m not sure exactly what [Schmidt’s] situation is. I haven’t talked to him about it, but it’s unfortunate.”
Kunin passes test
Forward Luke Kunin, who’s recovering from a torn ACL, passed coach Bruce Boudreau’s skating test Saturday and is getting closer to getting medically cleared to play.
Once that happens, it’s likely Kunin reports to the American Hockey League to get back into game mode.
“He hasn’t played a preseason game yet,” Boudreau said. “So common sense says he’s going to go down and play some games. But the biggest thing is to get him healthy. He’s what we need in this organization, a good young player who can play. So to get him playing at top speed would be the ideal thing rather than just throwing him into the fire up here right away.”
Grand Rapids’ Jake Bischoff didn’t make Vegas’ lineup to make his NHL debut, but the defenseman did lead the stretch during the team’s morning skate — a nod to his local ties.
“It’s definitely cool,” Bischoff said. “You get home and met some family for dinner last night, some buddies. It’s definitely really cool and a treat.”
Although Bischoff played a handful of games at Xcel when he was with the Gophers from 2013 to 2017, this was his first trip to the Wild’s arena with a professional team.
Drafted by the Islanders in the seventh round in 2012, the Golden Knights acquired Bischoff in an expansion-draft trade with New York.
“It’s awesome,” said Bischoff, who went to Grand Rapids High School. “It’s unbelievable. It’s a dream come true. I get to be with an NHL team and be around the guys. I’m having so much fun right now. So just being able to do it is really, really cool.”