Just prior to the start of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NHL dropped some news so very quietly that you may not have heard about it at all. Surely no one would be paying attention to a non-playoff story that didn’t involve Joel Quenneville being hired by a team at long last. No one would looking for a feel-bad story a day after 15 NHL teams started breaking down their home ice, right?
In August 2018, Slava Voynov sought re-instatement into the NHL after having his record expunged. He had served 90 days in jail and his three year probation in Russia playing in the KHL. Voynov wanted to play in the league he once did, the one from which he rightfully lost his privilege to play for after violently beating his wife. The league needed to perform an investigation before they would determine if they would reinstate him.
Yesterday, the NHL determined that Voynov should be suspended for the entirety of the 2019-20 season. Basically, their investigation turned up that he had a domestic violence charge against him and that he should be suspended for “unacceptable off-ice conduct”. Basically, they came up with the obvious.
Slava Voynov has been suspended for the entire 2019-20 NHL season (including playoffs) for unacceptable off-ice conduct. Voynov’s eligibility to play in the NHL will be restored (assuming good behavior) no later than July 1, 2020. https://t.co/zd7jDQI4TU
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 9, 2019
How did I find out about it? By somehow ending up at Deadspin, which had it on their front page.
Essentially the league is doing what I thought they would do last summer: they have decided to leave his long-term future in the hands of the teams. Though his contract was terminated by the Kings, they still retain his rights. They could release or trade his rights or decided to sign him in 2020. But it’s clear that the NHL didn’t want to permanently ban him, to be the bad guy, rather let teams decide if they wanted to take the risk — and the flak — for signing the then 30 year old defenseman.
Personally, I hope that he goes unsigned and that teams do the right thing despite the fact the NHL won’t.