LA Kings D Slava Voynov Pleads No Contest To Misdemeanor Charges; What Should NHL, LA Kings Do Now?

LA Kings defenseman Slava
Voynov’s booking photo.
Photo: Redondo Beach Police Department

LOS ANGELES — On July 2, as part of a plea agreement, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, who had been charged with one felony count of “corporal injury to spouse with great bodily injury,” has pled no contest to one misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a spouse.

According to a press release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, “Voynov caused his wife to suffer injuries to her eyebrow, cheek and neck during an argument at their Redondo Beach home. The injuries required medical attention at a local hospital where the defendant was arrested.”

The news was first reported by Larry Altman of the Daily Breeze and Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register. Both were at the Los Angeles Superior Court in Torrance, California where Judge Eric C. Taylor accepted the plea agreement.

As reported by Altman and Hammond, Voynov, who was arrested on October 20, 2014, was sentenced to 90 days in county jail (or another local jail), three years probation, 52 weeks in a domestic violence prevention program and approximately $700.00 in fines. He must begin serving his jail time by July 14.

Voynov will be credited with time served (one day) in a local jail after his arrest by Redondo Beach Police. He could be eligible for good behavior, which could shorten his time in jail to 45 days. Voynov must also return to court on October 5 to prove that he is enrolled in a domestic violence prevention program.

Voynov could also face deportation, which would be decided at the Federal level. However, it seems unlikely that Voynov will be deported, given that this involved a misdemeanor, not a felony, it seems unlikely that his attorneys would have agreed to such a plea deal if they did not think it would protect their client from possible deportation.

Voynov’s attorney issued the following statement, as reported by Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times: “Mr. Voynov accepts responsibility for his actions the night of the incident. Mr. Voynov and his wife believe that ending domestic violence both inside and outside of professional sports must be a high priority. Mr. Voynov has been and remains fully committed to long-term therapy and counseling, individually and with his family.”

What Happens Now?

Shortly after the plea agreement was reached. the Kings released the following statement:

We believe the legal system has effectively resolved this matter and the punishment is fair and just. Any act of domestic violence is unacceptable. As an organization, the prevention of domestic violence and the education of our players and employees is of paramount importance. We will continue to actively develop and implement a strategy to deliver this message. We remain steadfast in our support of the National Hockey League as they now begin their own investigative process. Until that is complete we will withhold further comment.

Voynov remains suspended indefinitely by the NHL, and under a team suspension (for a non-hockey-related Achilles injury), which removes his salary from their salary cap.

Until the league lifts its suspension, Voynov’s career remains in limbo. However, should the league lift its suspension, the Kings would have to reinstate him, or move to terminate his contract.

Although it would likely result in Voynov filing a grievance, followed by a lawsuit, it would be a mistake of epic proportions for the Kings to reinstate Voynov, should the league lift his suspension, a move the NHL might have to make in order to move the process forward, regardless of their intentions.

If the Kings were to reinstate Voynov, it would not only open them up to criticism from their fans, the rest of the hockey world and beyond, but such a move would also be viewed as an implicit acceptance of domestic violence.

Implicit or not, as the Kings stated, domestic violence cannot be accepted. Reinstating Voynov, as good a player as he is, would send the wrong message, on multiple levels.

The Kings, and the NHL know what they must do. Let’s hope they get this one right.

For complete coverage of today’s developments in the Voynov case, check out the Twitter feeds of Larry Altman, Rich Hammond and Nathan Fenno.

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47 Responses to LA Kings D Slava Voynov Pleads No Contest To Misdemeanor Charges; What Should NHL, LA Kings Do Now?

  1. I think that you should be somewhat more measured in condemning Slava “but such a move would also be viewed as an implicit acceptance of domestic violence.”

    Slava has been punished and is accepting responsibility for his actions. He is young and probably not mature. I don’t think he is a monster, and if he is truly contrite, perhaps he should be forgiven. Accepting him back would not be “implicit acceptance” but forgiveness for a transgression.

    This is not religious, but philosophical.

    • Gann Matsuda says:

      As the Kings stated, domestic violence is not acceptable. Reinstating him would indeed signal an acceptance, whether you or I like it or not.

      • Not Slava Voynov says:

        reinstating him would signal an acceptance of domestic violence? LOL, what a dumb comment.

      • Jay Wells says:

        So basically even if he owns up to his mistake he should be cut loose? People make mistakes all the time (especially when they’re young). If he’s remorseful and apologizes to all involved I see no issue with bringing him back after he does his time. What if a player gets caught cheating on his wife which I’m sure happens all the time? That is not acceptable either. Where do we draw the line here. #FreeVoynov

        • egebjerg2013 says:

          Cheating on your wife while immoral is not illegal. His mistake was committing domestic violence which is illegal! As a professional athlete he signed a contract which has a morals clause in it, and he violated it. He deserves to be able to get on with his life after serving his time, but playing professional sports, he should be done!

      • elehcdn says:

        So you are saying that the Kings should not take an active part in rehabilitation? That they should not allow for redemption under any circumstances? That they write off a member of their “family” because of a transgression that he has admitted to and is attempting to rectify?
        A reminder that this hasn’t happened in the past. The Kings organization stood behind Joe Corvo prior to Lombardi’s arrival and with Drew Doughty in his rape accusation, and in Mark Hardy’s truly horrid transgression.
        It’s sad when we are so quick to condemn and so unwilling to accept redemption … especially when profit is involved.

        • Gann Matsuda says:

          Doughty was never arrested or charged. Hardy was let go. BIG differences. There were also extenuating circumstances in Hardy’s case, which are not well known.

          • elehcdn says:

            Hardy was lucky his assault took place in Washington D.C. where the victim could refuse to press charges. Unfortunately, in California, the DA pressed on even though the victim did not want to pursue a charge.

            • Gann Matsuda says:

              Actually, charges were filed against him but were later dropped.

            • elehcdn says:

              Yes, they were dropped for “want of prosecution”, in other words, the victim didn’t want to proceed. Interestingly enough, Varlomov also was charged with sexual assault in D.C. but the charges were dropped, even though the victim is now trying to sue in civil court for the assault.
              Maybe the best thing would be for Voynov to move to another state where the league can turn a blind eye and hide behind the local courts.

            • Gann Matsuda says:

              You know who the victim was, right?

            • elehcdn says:

              Yes, I am well aware, but the league and the team making an example out of VV? … I’ll bet this isn’t the first and won’t be the last around the league, but the repercussions because this happened in California have bigger ramifications. I just cringe at seeing the holier than thou attitude – VV was tried and a ruling was made that he appears to be prepared to follow. At times like this, he needs a support system to break his patterns and I think that the only “family” he has known since he came to the U.S. should be there for him.

  2. Don Bright says:

    Also considering they terminated Richards contract for reasons unknown, but more than likely not as horrible as domestic violence, they must do the same here, even though this one hurts them personnel wise.

  3. Gann, Domestic Violence is NOT acceptable and Slava has been punished accordingly to the extent of the LAW. So what YOU’RE saying is, the next time a Kings player is caught with drugs, his contract should be immediately terminated? What if that’s Doughty, who has had some questionable friendships with teammates in the past? You gonna terminate HIS contract because drugs are NOT ACCEPTABLE!?

  4. Gann Matsuda says:

    Have to look at each incident on a case-by-case basis. There are different circumstances in every incident. Can’t make a blanket statement, as you’re suggesting.

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  10. Jc16 says:

    He’s been punished for over a year. Was it wrong? Absolutely. Should it Barr him from hockey? Hell no. Look at the other athletes that have done bad things but continue to play. Ray rice, Michael Vick, coby Bryant, colorado goalie. This is a complete overreaction.

    • Bob says:

      Ray Rice hasn’t played and still hasn’t been picked up. Vick did time but was cut from the Falcons and was a back up QB when he was picked up by the Eagles. Kobe was never charged with anything and neither was Varlomov. You picked some poor choices.

  11. Shane says:

    Gotta disagree. To not reinstate him would be punitive. A person who is sentenced and serves their punishment needs to be allowed to continue their life. That’s what the justice system is for. If it happened to any of us, we’d expect to return to our employment.

  12. Summer Jasmine says:

    OMG. The guy made a mistake. His WIFE is forgiving him. NHL should forgive him. He has to do 52 weeks of DV classes and 90 days in jail. Really? That isn’t enough? Let him play.

    • Bob says:

      He won’t do any time. La County jail system is so backed up they don’t have room to hold misdemeanors for that long let alone anytime. I have a couple friends who work there and have been there and they never told misdemeanors the full time or at all.

  13. Laura Lang says:

    I think it’s very easy to act like all domestic violence is the same, and that the reaction should be a “scorched earth” policy against anyone who commits such an act. Reality, though, tells us that although some stories have similarities, each story is different. This is a young couple who have only been married a relatively short time. Isn’t it more realistic to concede that when we are talking about a family…a husband and a wife and a child, that they deserve the chance to determine for themselves, whether they can go forward from here?

    I was horrified when the judge in this case threatened Marta with legal action – including threatening her immigration status because she stated that she didn’t want to testify against her husband. The fact that they were attempting to intimidate someone who, (simultaneously), they were claiming was the victim in this case, was immoral to me.

    The public seems to love redemption, but also loves to demand that redemption be gained according to their own particular idea of what the terms should be…she should leave him; he should lose his job; they should be deported; he should suffer further; etc., etc., as if it’s our job to “teach him (or them) a lesson”. If “redemption” is to be meaningful, people have to be compassionate enough to allow him (and them) a chance to work through this according to their own terms. Just like couples who survive an affair or other betrayals of trust, this event has the potential to bind them together and produce positive changes in their marriage. To respect someone’s marriage, you have to be willing to let them determine if they take advantage of that potential or if they decide the marriage can’t be repaired. We should give them a chance to prove to each other (not to us) that they have learned something from this experience.

    Lastly, I firmly believe that if the League doesn’t prohibit it, that the only people who should have any say in whether he plays for the Kings again, are those in the locker room. We all watched Darryl tell the group after the last Cup Win that they needed to “take care of each other” for the rest of their lives…and if letting Slava back in the locker room is the way they believe is the best way to “take care” of him…then the rest of us shouldn’t prioritize our personal feelings, but should try and support him while he seeks his own redemption…and support Marta as she decides whether to stand by him while he does.

  14. The crest on the front of the Kings uniform is something he does not deserve to wear. To be a member of the Kings is a privilege. In my opinion, he’s not privileged.

  15. Naima Vons says:

    Slava should NOT come back. The Kings need to adhere to a consistent code of conduct. No double standards please! “Second Chances” argument is invalid – Slava is a repeat offender as stated by his own wife. NHL players must display role model level conduct to support all the causes their clubs promote. Any felony should lead to immediate termination of contract. Kings Org leadership role is very concerning to me as a fan.

  16. Bob says:

    The problem right now is no sports team wants to look like the Ravens did with Ray Rice. That situation made the minimum punishment for a player who is charged with DV cut or released from that team. Voynov has been charged and most likely will be let go because no team wants to be the Ravens.

  17. Aaron says:

    If he does his time and pays his dues, then I don’t have a problem bringing him back.

    However, I felt that his play on the ice sucked so for the purposes of the Kings I would like to see his contact terminated.

  18. Jann says:

    Slava Voynov has demonstrated he is not the quality person we are accustomed to hearing about i.e. Gretzky, Blake, Kopitar, Carter, Evans and numerous LAKings who have always maintained dignity and deserve much respect both on and off the ice. Voynov has chosen to behave repeatedly more like an uneducated bully. He does NOT deserve to be an LAKing. I hope he takes the counselling seriously and becomes a better, more mature person, but he has forfeited his right to stand with the other players who have maintained high professional and personal standards. We have a lot to be proud of, but he isn’t it. I would hate to see other team fans wave wife beater shirts at our games as a taunt were Voynov to return. LAKings and the NHL are above this, or should be.

  19. Scott Egebjerg says:

    I don’t think there is anyway Voynov plays for the Kings again. Wouldn’t be surprised if the NHL suspends him for the entire season. In addition the Kings suspended him for his non hockey injury, thus BYE BYE Voynov!!

  20. egebjerg2013 says:

    Voynov cost the Kings a huge opportunity to win back to back Stanley Cup Championships! Losing Mitchell was bad, but had Voynov played the entire season, the Kings would have had an excellent chance to win. He made a bad choice, he is a professional athlete, and should as any one else does suffer the consequences of his actions. To play pro sports there is a conduct clause in every contract signed. He violated that, and should never play in the NHL again!

  21. Stuart Makagon says:

    Gann, the punishment for corporal injury to spouse is specified by the Penal Code. It does not include being terminated from the convict’s job. His sentence includes jail, a fine, and probationary supervision. He must also undergo counseling.

    I don’t see how you conclude that an employer approves of unlawful conduct, in this case domestic violence, by restoring the job of a person with no prior convictions who has accepted responsibility for his unlawful conduct and will have served out the sentence imposed by the court.

    • Gann Matsuda says:

      Professional athletes are held to a higher standard, as role models. That’s basically what’s in the Standard Player’s Contract (not in those words). It’s a morals clause, which he violated.

      • Stuart Makagon says:

        The NHL has punished and is punishing him for violating the morals clause of the SPC by suspending him ever since the league learned of his arrest. Now that criminal proceedings against Voynov have been completed, they may further suspend and/or fine him. It is not reasonable or fair to fire him. Would you ban him from playing for any NHL team or just the Kings?

  22. jay rosenberg says:

    He will be reinstated by the NHL. Do you think the player’s association will just stand by and let this happen? do you think the next time Patrick Kane punches out a cabdriver he is going to be worrying about being banned from playing hockey? Zero chance.

    He did the crime. He did his time (suspension). He will do some time. He will be reinstated. He will NOT have any contract voided. He might get traded.

  23. Lou Filliger says:

    I hope Slava comes back to the Kings. As a fan I’ve missed his presence on the team greatly. He’s paying his price to society (and too a high a price already, in my opinion).

  24. Mik3ysfv says:

    Couldn’t just cover the Lucic trade, eh? The domestic violence comments will back up the sewer in no time.
    Dean Lombardi, lessons learned of late not withstanding, is not going to turn his back on the kid. $100,000 skate around and the kid keeping his word to come here and toil in the minors while passing on big KHL money says otherwise.
    Most people in the world, me included, have done something in our past, while perhaps not prosecutable and of different natures, that is equally reprehensible. Be it cheating (like DV, is a complete betrayal of trust), keeping silent allowing wrongs to continue, or whatever it may be. Whether granted a second chance, or we issued ourselves one no one the wiser, we’pretty much all have used a second chance. I’m not saying Slava or any of us deserve the second shot, but he should get one. After all, it’s not like it’s a Mulligan and will be as if his crime never happened. I doubt he’ll ever hear the end of it.

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