The potential return of controversial defenseman Slava Voynov has become one of the hottest of issues facing the National Hockey League at the moment. So much, that on Monday night, the League had to say something, anything at all really, about the rumors stating that Voynov has been seeking a return in the NHL for months now.
Earlier this season, Voynov informed SKA Saint Petersburg he will not be back next year, and is expected to return to the NHL despite leaving under a lot of heat and controversy, after he was convicted of domestic abuse back in 2014 when he was a member of the Los Angeles Kings. The Russian defenseman remains indefinitely suspended from the NHL over a 2014 incident that got him sentenced to 90 days in jail on a misdemeanour charge of corporal injury to his spouse Marta Varlamova. At the time of the incident a Redondo Beach police officer reported that Voynov's wife had a laceration over her left eye where blood was streaming, as well as red marks on her neck. He also claimed that Voynov pushed his wife to the ground and then kicked her while she was down and that he also choked her on three separate occasions during the assault. When the officer arrived at the scene of the crime he noted that there was blood all over the bedroom and that there was blood on the comforter as well as a bloody hand-print on the floor.
Rather than spend an undefined amount of time in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation hearings, Voynov agreed to voluntarily leave the country and return home to Russia.
It is well known that Voynov would have to meet with the League and commissioner Gary Bettman as part of a hearing where there could be additional discipline suspension applied upon his return, and finally the commissioner and his deputy commissioner Bill Daly were asked the real questions in this saga in a press conference ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final between the Washington Capitals and Golden Knights in Vegas on Monday.
During the conference, a reporter asked Daly about the defenseman possibly coming back to the NHL. Daly denied that there had been any discussions about this and deferred to his boss Bettman, who would have final say in that decision. Here is the full answer, as reported via Pro Hockey Talk’s Mike Halford:
“If that was ever something that was proposed, we’re on record as saying that would require a proceeding before the commissioner,” Daly said, when asked about Voynov’s possible return.When asked if Voynov had “served his time,” Daly offered the following: “Ultimately that’s not my decision, that’ll be Gary’s decision.
“I don’t want to speculate either on what that might be. I’ve heard from time to time that he might have an interest in coming back to the National Hockey League, but that hasn’t advanced in any material way to this point.“So let’s wait and see if it happens.”
What kind of an answer is this?
The National Hockey League Players Association told ESPN's Greg Wyshynski on Tuesday that Voynov "does in fact have some legal procedures in California that he needs to work out" following his "voluntary deportation." The Los Angeles Times has reported that Voynov's court records show "his court-ordered probation expires in July."
He appeared in 190 games over four seasons with the Kings, scoring 18 goals and adding 63 assists. Voynov was a member of the Kings' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2012 and 2014.
This story is not over...