Slava Voynov suspended by NHL after domestic violence arrest
Kings defenceman barred from team while league investigates
The NHL has suspended Los Angeles Kings defenceman Slava Voynov from all team activities indefinitely while it investigates his arrest on domestic violence accusations.
Voynov will not be able to practise with the team or play in games while the NHL investigates, but he will continue to be paid.
Voynov was booked and released at the Redondo Beach jail after his arrest early Monday morning at a Torrance hospital on suspicion of corporal injury to a spouse, Redondo Beach police Lt. Joe Hoffman said. The 24-year-old Russian defenceman posted $50,000 US bail.
Craig Renetzky, the lawyer representing Voynov, told The Associated Press that Voynov hasn't yet been charged with a crime. His next court date is Dec. 1, Renetzky said.
"We're still investigating with the police," Renetzky said. "It's very early on in the proceedings. We're just asking everybody to be patient, because arrests don't always lead to charges and convictions."
Sgt. Paul Ribitzki said Voynov was arrested under a "domestic violence/spousal abuse" section of the penal code. Ribitzki said Voynov was booked early Monday.
Redondo Beach police responded to a neighbour's report of a woman screaming and crying in Voynov's neighbourhood on Sunday night, but couldn't find anyone, Hoffman said. About 90 minutes later, Voynov was arrested after a nurse at the Torrance hospital called police to report the alleged victim was being treated for injuries that "alarmed" the emergency-room staff.
Police didn't release the alleged victim's name or her relationship to Voynov, citing her confidentiality rights. A couple must be married, in a relationship, cohabitating or have a child together for an alleged crime to fall under the statute cited by the arresting officers.
Hoffman said additional charges could be filed against Voynov because a child was in the house shared by the defenceman and the alleged victim, although Voynov isn't the child's father.
TMZ reported that Voynov was arrested around 1 a.m. PT Monday morning after accompanying an injured woman to a hospital in Torrance, Calif.
The NHL announced the suspension citing Section 18-1.5 of the collective bargaining agreement, which gives it the power to suspend a player during a criminal investigation if failing to do so "would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the league."
"These developments are of great concern to our organization," the Kings said in a statement. "We support the NHL's decision to suspend Slava Voynov indefinitely during this process, and we will continue to take appropriate action as the legal proceedings and the investigation by the NHL take their course."
The NFL has received widespread criticism for its handling of recent domestic violence charges against several players.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said he is confident in his league's policies, noting in a recent interview in Los Angeles that the league provides education and frequent counselling to its players.
Voynov will be paid during the investigation.
He is the second prominent Russian NHL player to be accused of domestic violence in a year. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov was arrested last October after allegations were brought against him by his girlfriend, but he wasn't suspended by the league, and the case was dropped in December.
The soft-spoken Voynov, who speaks limited English, was a key contributor to the Kings' two championship teams in the past three years, playing an aggressive two-way game from the blue line. The 24-year-old Siberia native also played for Russia at the Sochi Olympics.
"He's not familiar with our legal system, so he had a lot of questions," Renetzky said.
The NHL's rapid response to Voynov's situation comes after the NFL was criticized for not dealing more swiftly when Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and other players faced charges.
The NFL suspended Rice for two games after he was arrested for hitting his then-fiancee at an Atlantic City casino. Months later, and after video of the incident surfaced, the league banned Rice indefinitely and the Baltimore Ravens released him.
Peterson, a star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, was suspended indefinitely with pay by the team when he was charged with child abuse in Texas.
Voynov has played in the NHL since the 2011-12 season. The Kings signed him to a six-year, $25-million US contract extension in June 2013, paying him $3 million this season with escalating salaries through 2019.
The Kings had a day off from practice Monday after winning their last four games. Their next game is Thursday at home against Buffalo.
With files from CBCSports.ca