The Los Angeles Kings defenceman played just six games with the team last season before he was arrested on domestic violence charges. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour count of “corporal injury to a spouse” on July 2 and was sentenced to 90 days in jail along with probation of three years.
On September 2, Voynov was taken into custody by United States immigration officials. He was facing possible deportation and was being held without bail while he awaited a hearing before an immigration judge.
It was after that incident that the Kings finally decided that Voynov “would no longer play for the team.”
“The method by which we would ensure this outcome was something we carefully considered and we established a deadline of September 17…to reach this outcome,” said the Kings in a statement. September 17 is the beginning of 2015-2016 training camp, for the record. They added that they now didn’t have to “terminate” Voynov’s contract because he’s heading back to Russia. So, yeah.
The team has faced a round of criticism for how they’ve handled the Voynov situation and their most recent statement seems to at least attempt to address the matter: “As we have publicly stated since Mr. Voynov’s arrest last year, the Kings organization will not tolerate domestic violence. As part of that commitment, we will soon announce a series of new Conduct Awareness Training Initiatives that reflect the values and principles central to our franchise.”
Most people remember that the Kings had Voynov practice with the team regardless of the fact that he was suspended by the NHL at the time for said domestic violence charges. And it’s only now that Voynov has decided to return to Russia that the Kings have decided to say they were going to terminate his deal all along because…zero tolerance or whatever.
By willingly departing the United States, Voynov is both avoiding any lengthy deportation process and leaving the door open for a National Hockey League return. He has not filed any papers to retire from the NHL and is effectively out of his Los Angeles contract, but that doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t be seen in the league again.
Theoretically, Voynov can return to the United States in a few years on a new visa. This is because he wasn’t actually deported. He departed voluntarily. There’s a big legal difference.
In terms of the business of hockey, the Kings just freed up the $19.25 million they were going to pay Voynov for the last four years of his deal. So, there’s that.