Tag Archives: domestic violence

Slava Voynov’s Domestic Violence Case Worse Than Expected

By Savannah Malnar

When defenseman Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings was initially arrested on domestic violence charges and suspended indefinitely by the NHL in late October, the media didn’t have a lot of information on the case. Voynov and his wife both claimed it was an “accident,” but the case still went to court.

Fast forward roughly two months to Voynov’s preliminary hearing on Monday. In this hearing, what at first seemed like a possible misunderstanding became much worse. A police officer offered his testimony to the case; apparently, Voynov had pushed his wife to the ground multiple times, kicked her, choked her multiple times, and pushed her into a television which caused a gash above her eye requiring stitches.

Pretty bad, right? The people in the sport media largely agree. Big names such as Yahoo! Sports and the Bleacher Report say it like it is, calling the incident “shocking,” “bloody,” and “horrifying.” An article in the Bleacher Report praised the NHL for its initial suspension, along with its decision to fine the LA Kings $100,000 when they violated suspension protocol and allowed the defenseman to take part in a practice with the team. The NHL’s lack of toleration for both the suspected domestic violence and violation of suspension protocol shows their dedication to ensuring a high standard of how the players act off the ice. This reflects good on the league in comparison to the NFL’s mishandling of the Ray Rice case.

While the large national media outlets highlighted the moral aspect of Voynov’s case and suspension, a more local source, the LA Times, stayed completely objective on that front. In comparison to the headlines “NHL’s Hard Line with Slava Voynov Remains Justified as Horrible Details Emerge” (Bleacher Report) and “Slava Voynov kicked, choked, bloodied wife according to police” (Yahoo! Sports), the LA Times headline was simply “Domestic violence case against Slava Voynov will proceed, judge rules.” This is an extremely stark difference and reflects the habits of local sources tending to be less critical of athletes in these sorts of situations.

With domestic abuse becoming a hot topic in the sports world, both the league itself and the hockey media must be sensitive to the broad audience that the sport invites. Even with the LA Times remaining objective, the media and the NHL have done a good job so far showing this sort of behavior by a player is unacceptable and disappointing.

Domestic Abuse in the NHL

By Savannah Malnar

Domestic abuse is a serious issue that has lately become a hot topic in professional sports, namely the NFL. Unfortunately cases can be found in multiple sports, most recently in the NHL. Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely by the NHL due to him being arrested for domestic violence charges.

While the NFL has now made very strict and specific rules regarding domestic abuse (the player gets suspended for 6 games for his first violation, and the player gets a lifetime ban for a repeat offense), the NHL has no such regulations. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is aware of the new enforcements in the NFL, but does not believe any need to be implemented in the NHL due to their work in implementing educational courses and counseling for the athletes.

The case is being compared by the media to the domestic violence case against Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche goaltender. Varlamov was charged with abusing his girlfriend during the 2013-2014 season, but continued to play with the Avalanche and suffered no discipline from the league. The charges were later dropped due to “reasonable doubt.”

With the new attention being given to these cases, the media is questioning how the NHL handled Varlomov’s case last season. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News says about that case, “…the league kept its distance from the situation.” They seem to have a different attitude towards the Voynov case.

The sport media is asking the big question, “Why is this case different?”

The most obvious answer is that the climate regarding domestic abuse cases regarding athletes has drastically changed since the Ray Rice incident and the NFL’s failure to correctly respond. The NHL does not want to risk making a similar mistake; and the suspension is justified through the recently re-negotiated CBA which allows the league to suspend a player who is subject to a criminal investigation.

While the sport media has been covering this story as thoroughly as possible, the NHL themselves has only released one short statement regarding the situation, including a quote from the Kings organization regarding how concerning this event is to the team.

As this situation progresses, the NHL should act proactively to keep fans and other players updated to ensure that they are fully informed through a reliable source.