It’s almost old news now, but Los Angeles defencemen Slava Voynov, was arrested and released on $50,000 bail, on the suspicion of domestic violence, just one month after the National Football League’s debacle, which saw Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, suspended firstly for two games, then indefinitely, when video footage was released involving Rice assaulting his fiance, then dragging her out of an elevator.
But, what does this have to do with the NHL and Slava Voynov?
For the short term at least, it’s stagnant. Investigations are under way and December 1 is when Voynov is due to appear in court, so until then, he will not be apart of the Kings lineup, even though he will still be paid during that time. From there, if things turn south for the Russian, and he is indeed charged, then in this day and age, his NHL career for the short term, is over.
The last NHL player to be arrested in relation to domestic violence, was Colorado Avalanche Goaltender, Semyon Varlamov, in October of 2013. He was not suspended by the NHL, and allowed to play, leading the Avalanche to the top of the Western Conference. Even though some Russian politicians thought this was just a tactic by the US to weaken the Russian Olympic Hockey Team, the case was dropped in December of the same year, and Varlamov was allowed to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics, held in Sochi, Russia. In Voynov’s case however, thanks to the NFL’s hash job of the Ray Rice incident, no chances were taken by Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League, suspending Voynov within hours of his arrest, and avoiding the controversy surrounding the NFL and it’s Commissioner, Roger Goddell.
Where does this leave Slava Voynov, and the Los Angeles Kings?
For Voynov, there is always the Kontinental Hockey League in his home country of Russia, where he will be welcomed with open arms. As for his playing career in the NHL? If he is found guilty, then don’t expect Voynov to be on NHL ice for a long while. If he is found not guilty, and reinstated into the NHL-fold, he instantly adds something to the Kings D group. If, however if comes back as a Free Agent, then he would help any team toward a playoff push, or even a Stanley Cup run. The big question remains, whilst Voynov is suspended, what happenes to the Los Angeles Kings in regards to roster space and salary cap. Voynov has a $4,166,667 hit on the cap for the next six seasons, according to CapGeek, and if the Kings don’t receive some form of compensation, then that amount stays on their cap, with no access to the player, which is a massive disadvantage for the defending Stanley Cup champions. CapGeek also states that the Kings only have $495,394 remaning in their salary cap for this season, meaning that they cannot add a replacement for Slava Voynov, unless they pay the player in Pizza franchises.
Los Angeles do have the option of promoting a defenceman from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, which if I was to take a guess as to who they would promote, I would guess if would be Jeff Schultz, who played seven games in the playoffs, during their successful run to the Stanley Cup last season. But even if Schultz, or anyone gets promoted to fill the gap in the roster due to Voynov’s absence, the Kings do not deserve to be punished, even though Voynov is a member of their playing roster.
Whatever the result may be in this case, the fact of the matter is this. The National Hockey League took the safe route by suspending Voynov indefinitely until investigations are completed, and if any further actions need to be taken. This avoided the controversy and complete shambles that the National Football League has entered itself into, due to the mis-handling of the situation, which is the one thing the NHL has to avoid, in order to preserve it’s image it has only just rebuilt, since the 2012-13 lockout.
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