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SAN JOSE, Calif. – The NHL handed San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane a 21-game suspension on Monday for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, The Associated Press confirmed.

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The league announced Kane’s suspension without pay earlier in the evening, citing only his violation of the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, reported.

Kane, 30, who did not participate in the Sharks’ training camp and did not play in the team’s season-opening win against the Winnipeg Jets, is eligible to return against the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 30, the professional hockey news outlet reported.

Kane will forfeit about $1.68 million of his $7 million salary for this season with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, the AP reported.

“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL COVID protocols,” Kane said in a prepared statement. “I made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for. During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future. When my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination and love for the game of hockey.”

The league also announced that a concurrent investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse made against Kane by his estranged wife, Deanna Kane, could not be substantiated, reported.

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“While we are encouraged by Evander’s commitment to moving forward, we are extremely disappointed by his disregard for the health and safety protocols put in place by the NHL and the NHLPA. We will not be commenting further on Evander’s status prior to the conclusion of the NHL’s mandated suspension,” the league said in a prepared statement.

A person familiar with the investigation confirmed to the AP earlier this month that the league was looking into allegations that Kane submitted a fake vaccination card. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details were not made public.

In addition to violating NHL rules, using a fake vaccination card is illegal in both the United States and Canada.

Kane, who has four seasons remaining on his seven-year contract, led the Sharks last season with 49 points – including 22 goals and 27 assists – in 56 games, reported.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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