Interest in Slava Voynov as he explores NHL comeback

Slava Voynov. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

Last weekend, an Instagram photo surfaced with Slava Voynov and wife Marta together in Miami. That was followed by a report from Sport-Express’s Igor Eronko indicating Voynov could apply for a U.S. work visa on July 2.

So, what does this mean?

First, the context. The former Los Angeles Kings defenceman has not played an NHL game since Oct. 19, 2014. Hours after assisting on the first goal in a 2-1 win over Minnesota, authorities were called to his home. A graphic police report detailed a domestic assault, and a hospital social worker testified he was told it wasn’t the first time.

Voynov would eventually plead "no-contest" to a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury to a spouse and served two months in jail. He returned to Russia instead of facing deportation. His six-year, $25-million contract was terminated by the Kings.

He was not allowed to play in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, but spent the last three seasons in the KHL and won a gold medal with the Russian National Team at the 2018 Olympics.

Voynov can’t apply for re-instatement until he can get the work visa, so we’re still a few weeks away. An expungement hearing is scheduled for July 2 in California court to remove the no-contest plea from his record. If that request is granted, he will have no criminal record. That would mean no further immigration problems in the U.S. or Canada. In fact, he’s had a U.S. Visitors’ Visa for at least a year, and, last summer, had some surgery done in Denver.

He and Marta remain married, with two children.

According to multiple sources, he has made it clear he’d like to return to the NHL. And it sounds like there is quite a bit of interest. He’s a talented, 28-year-old, right-shot defender.

But whoever signs him — or considers it — is going to take some serious heat, especially on social media. No one wants to go on-record because of the sensitivity.

Word is that Voynov met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHLPA about a month ago. There was no decision on any further discipline. Everyone believes that an additional suspension is coming before he can play, but no one is giving any indication of what that will be. This conversation was more about the current legal situation and what led to it.

From what I understand, once Voynov does apply, he, the NHL and the NHLPA can work together on a process. But, if they can’t agree, the CBA allows Bettman the right to hold a formal disciplinary hearing.

No team that takes him is going to get him free and clean.

It should also be noted that the Kings still have Voynov’s rights, even though his contract was terminated. He is on the Voluntary Retirement List, similar to Ilya Kovalchuk. You’ll remember that, last summer, since he wasn’t yet 35, anyone who wanted to sign him had to make a deal with New Jersey. Because Voynov has not missed at least one season of professional hockey, that’s the case here, too.

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