Slava Voynov ‘clearly did not hit her’ says lawyer (Yahoo Sports Exclusive)

Los Angeles Kings' Slava Voynov in action during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Monday, March 24, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Los Angeles Kings' Slava Voynov in action during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Monday, March 24, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The lawyer for Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov said he believes his client did not commit a crime and should be reinstated by the NHL.

Voynov was suspended from team activities indefinitely with pay Monday after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence by Redondo Beach police. He has not been charged. Police are investigating.

Craig Renetzky, Voynov’s lawyer, said he interviewed the woman involved for more than an hour Tuesday with his own interpreter and his own investigator. Renetzky said Voynov was not present at the interview, but he and the woman are currently together again. He said his client had not spoken to the NHL yet.

In short, Renetzky confirmed the woman was injured. But he said it was an accident and Voynov did not hit her. He said a language barrier led to miscommunication when police spoke to the woman at the hospital. He declined to give details.

“You’ve got to keep in mind the woman was in pain,” Renetzky told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday. “She had been injured. She’s in a strange environment. They won’t let her see her husband. She’s surrounded by police that are throwing questions at her. She doesn’t understand the language. I mean, that’s a very different environment than when you’re sitting down in a living room talking to somebody in their own language.”

Here is Renetzky’s interview with Yahoo Sports, with minor editing:

Q. If this was an accident, what kind of accident was it?

RENETZKY: “I can’t go into details. But based on my interview with the woman involved, it was very clear to me by the end of this interview that Mr. Voynov never hit her. I mean, this is a totally different situation, quite frankly, than the [Ray Rice] situation in the NFL. It’s not even in the same class.”

Did someone else hit her?

"No. No. I can’t go into great details other than to say that this was really I think more of a misunderstanding because of the language barrier. I had a very difficult time understanding the woman until I utilized the interpreter.”

What injuries did she suffer and how did she suffer them?

“Again, that goes into details that I can’t go into. I mean, she did go to the hospital. I can confirm that. But I can’t go into any details as far as the actual information goes until at least I can get all of our reports typed up and perhaps even turn them over to the police department.”

What caused the misunderstanding at the hospital? Doesn’t Voynov speak English?

“They would not allow him to interpret.”

She was difficult to understand?

“She’s new to the country. She’s a new English speaker. She was under a great deal of pain, a great deal of stress. She repeatedly asked to have Slava come in and interpret, and they didn’t allow it.”

What is his version of events?

“Consistent with hers.”

So he did not lay a finger on her? He did not cause her injuries in any way?

“He did not hit her. He clearly did not hit her.”

Did he cause her injuries?

“No. I don’t believe … Without going into great details … To give all the details wouldn’t make sense. But having practiced law as long as I have, based on both the version of events that he has explained to me and she’s explained to me, there’s no criminal activity here.”

Did the police take photographic evidence, and did they give it to the NHL?

“I believe that pictures were taken. Whether they’ve given that to the NHL, I don’t know.”

Have you talked to the NHL at all?

“No. I have not talked directly to the NHL. Obviously my client is going to cooperate with the NHL’s investigation because we’re extremely hopeful that once they look at this evidence, they’ll realize that the suspension should be lifted and put him back on the ice pending the final conclusion of the matter.”

Has the league talked to Voynov yet?

“No. I know they would like to talk to him, but until I completely conclude the investigation … That’s just not going to happen until everything’s done, basically.”

The first reaction is, “Well, of course Voynov’s lawyer is going to say it was an accident.” What is your response to that?

“Initially I didn’t say that. I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions until I actually did the investigation. But now I spent over ran hour talking to her in a language she could understand, and I’ve talked to the only other [participant] in this, which is my client. My statement is based on the actual investigation. That’s important. … He is innocent until proven guilty, and basically the proof I’ve seen definitely points toward innocence.

What beyond her saying it was an accident points toward innocence?

“They were both interviewed separately. They both have given statements to me that seem to show there’s no crime."

In the U.S. criminal justice system, a person is innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But with the NHL, the standard is different, correct?

“The NHL has, because of the collective bargaining agreement, the right to do what they have done. …

“You can’t handle every case the same. The stuff in the NFL, the NFL may have underreacted, and I think in this case the NHL has overreacted. There’s a fine line between the two. But I think if the NHL wants to do justice, they’ll conclude their investigation as quickly as possible. I think when they look at the evidence I’ve now seen they’re going to lift that suspension quickly. That’s all we can hope.”

If he’s innocent, why not say why she was injured or how she was injured?

“Because I haven’t completed the entire investigation. I think some of the stuff needs to remain private. She has asked not to be identified obviously. I am very hesitant to step on her toes with anything specific.”


Messages have been left for NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the Redondo Beach police and the woman’s lawyer. The woman has requested confidentiality.