NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly implied the league did have the National Football League incidents on its mind when it suspended Slava Voynov in light of the domestic assault arrest against the Los Angeles Kings defenseman, but said it was not the only factor involved in the decision.
In light of the fact that Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was also arrested on domestic assault charges a year ago and was not suspended by either the league or the Avalanche, it might be natural to tie the NFL’s troubles with domestic violence to the league’s decision to suspend Voynov, who is due to appear in court Oct. 22. Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are two high-profile NFL players, among others, who have been involved in domestic violence incidents of late and it would be naïve to think the NFL’s bungling of those situations was not a factor. But it wasn’t the only one, Daly said.
“I think the landscape has changed for all of us over the past six months,” Daly said in an email to thn.com. “But that’s not the only reason for the difference in treatment. Circumstances were different in Varlamov. I can’t get more specific than that.”
The NHL announced this morning that it had suspended Voynov indefinitely, with pay, pending a formal investigation by the league into the arrest. The suspension effectively means that Voynov cannot participate in any team activities, including practice.
The suspension was imposed under Section 18-A.5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which provides that, during the pendency of a criminal investigation, “The League may suspend the Player pending the League’s formal review and disposition of the matter where the failure to suspend the Player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League.”
(Update: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Voynov has not yet been charged with domestic assault, but was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.)
Last year, however, when Varlamov was charged, the league kept its distance from the situation. Varlamov was allowed to continue to play and travel with the Avalanche. Varlamov, who maintained his innocence from the beginning, was later cleared of all charges.”
“We are aware of the decision made by the Denver District Attorney’s Office to pursue misdemeanor charges against Avalanche player Semyon Varlamov,” the league said in a statement at the time. “While we continue to monitor the situation, we do not expect to take any action or have any further announcement pending the resolution of the charges.”
TMZ Sports is reporting that Voynov was actually arrested at a hospital in Torrence, Calif., at about 1 a.m. Monday after accompanying a woman to the hospital. The website is reporting that staff at the hospital called authorities to report Voynov as the person suspected of attacking the woman.
Unlike the NFL, the NHL does not have a domestic violence policy in place. When asked about the issue of domestic violence after the NFL incidents came to light, commissioner Gary Bettman said there are a number of remedies the league can use to deal with and punish it in appropriate cases, saying the league would rather focus on education and counseling. He pointed out that hockey has not had many high profile cases and would continue to deal with them on a case-by-case basis.
“We have been reviewing everything we do in this area,” Daly said.