NHL investigating case; Voynov’s suspension indefinite
By Michael Sopow, Sports Reporter
On October 20, Los Angeles Kings defenceman Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely from all team activities based on domestic violence allegations. Voynov will not be able to participate in team practices or take part in any NHL games as the league investigates his charges, but will still receive pay.
No identifying information of the accuser has been made public by police due to the victim’s right to confidentiality. Voynov’s suspension was enacted based on a section of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was introduced in September 2012 and approved by the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) in January 2013. Section 18-A.5 covers criminal investigation regarding off-ice incidents, in this case, Voynov’s arrest for suspected domestic abuse. The section states, “The League may suspend the player pending the League’s formal review and disposition of the matter where the failure to suspend the player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League.”
The Kings supported the NHL’s decision and issued their own statement on the issue:
“We will continue to take appropriate action as the legal proceedings and the investigation by the NHL take their course.”
Regarding the issue of domestic violence in sports, the NFL in comparison has undergone widespread criticism over the past several years for its handling of various cases where players were accused of domestic violence. One of the most notable examples regarding the NFL to date is with Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice, whose case was handled minimally until footage of him attacking his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, reached the mainstream months later. The NHL in contrast acted immediately in their situation with Voynov, suspending him the same day that he was arrested.
According to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a pre-game interview, the NHLPA and the league have cooperated in addressing the matter of domestic violence for more than 10 years. Meetings with the league’s department of security and counsellors employed to assist the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse and behavioural health program were arranged to focus on the concern of domestic violence.
Bettman expressed his assurance in the league’s jurisdiction when presented with problematic events. Despite the Voynov case, Bettman defended the league by stating, “Our players know what’s right and wrong.”