An arbitrator has upheld the NHL’s decision to suspend Slava Voynov for the equivalent of an 82-game season, but the ruling handed down Thursday has made it possible for the former Los Angeles Kings defenseman to return earlier than the league desired.
Third-party ruler Shyam Das determined that Voynov deserved “credit for time served” and ruled that Voynov had already fulfilled half of the suspension, or 41 games, despite it being served before the NHL’s ruling was actually handed down in April.
Voynov could now return at the halfway mark of next season — if an NHL team chooses to employ a criminal.
Voynov served almost two months in prison in 2015 after he pled no contest to a misdemeanour charge of corporal injury to a spouse. Once released, and after his contract was terminated by the Kings and he was banned by the NHL, he avoided deportation by voluntarily returning to Russia.
He’s continued to play professionally in the KHL — and competed at the Olympics — in his three-year probation term before initiating the process of attempting to return to North America. In April the NHL answered that by delaying his potential re-instatement until the start of the 2020-21 season with a one-year suspension, which the league saw cut in half Thursday.
The NHL issued a statement saying it disagrees with the credit given to Voynov, but is satisfied with Das’s ruling and will accept it.
Los Angeles, which continues to hold Voynov’s rights, issued the following statement.
"Today the NHL arbitrator rendered a final decision on further discipline to Slava Voynov. From our perspective, the player will not be playing for the Kings. We will now determine the impact of the arbitrator's decision on our rights to the player and consider our options going forward."
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