USATSI_8148496_154158418_lowresThe National Hockey League has suspended Los Angeles Kings defenceman Slava Voynov after he was arrested on domestic violence charges.

The NHL will be investigating the charges and Voynov will continue to be paid by his hockey club, but he won’t be able to attend practice or play in any games unless and until the suspension is lifted.

Voynov was booked early Monday after he was arrested by police in a Los Angeles suburb. Bail was set at $50,000 and the defenceman posted it. He was arrested after accompanying an injured woman to hospital.

“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.”

Obviously the NHL’s swiftness to suspend comes on the heels of some ugly incidents in other sports leagues, namely the National Football League. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently said that his league has been “educating players for decades” with regard to issues like domestic violence. He talked up a case-by-case approach.

“Based on our experience to date, we believe that the appropriate procedures are in effect that we can do what we need to do on a case-by-case basis,” Bettman said. “I am extraordinarily proud of our players and how they conduct themselves. If and when something needs to be addressed in terms of discipline, it will be.”

It’s also worth noting that Voynov’s arrest means he’s automatically referred to the NHL and the NHLPA’s substance abuse and behavioural health program.

Bettman’s proactivity, as much as it may pain some to admit, should be applauded here. He is stepping out from the spectre of the NFL’s disgraceful Roger Goodell and out from the lack of action over last October’s Semyon Varlamov situation. There’s no more “wait and see” from Bettman on these matters and thank goodness for that.

No sports league – no organization period – can afford to take these issues lightly. The ethical stains alone should be enough to rattle the cage. If Voynov ends up acquitted or the charges wind up being dropped, fine. But the NHL took the only logical and moral route here and for that they should be applauded. Imagine that.

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