Slava Voynov’s journey home to Russia last month was not something he expected to happen so early in his career. But after pleading “no contest” to a misdemeanor charge of spousal abuse and spending 90 days in jail, Voynov left North America for his homeland while still under suspension from the NHL and the Los Angeles Kings.
However, as soon as he started skating at the Russian national team training facility over a week ago with the national team coach Oleg Znarok, his future in the KHL became a topic for debate. “My emotions are positive,” Voynov said after the first skate. “It is a shame, though, that I am coming back under such circumstances.”
Voynov’s KHL rights belong to Traktor Chelyabinsk, and the team, supported by the governor of the region, made a substantial offer to have him play for the team. However, Voynov decided to play for SKA St. Petersburg together with Ilya Kovalchuk, who showed support for Voynov in Russian media.
SKA is currently negotiating with Traktor to obtain Voynov’s KHL rights before negotiating with the player himself regarding details. SKA will also need to obtain Voynov’s international transfer card, which means the Los Angeles Kings will also need to agree to the terms of the contract. Voynov’s agent Alexander Tyzhnykh said the negotiations are continuing with the Kings, the NHL and the NHLPA.
But this is where the situation can get tricky for Voynov.
SKA’s head coach Andrei Nazarov opined that he wasn’t too keen to see Voynov in St. Petersburg, if it was going to be just a one year deal. “If he signs a contact with the club for three years, like Ilya Kovalchuk, I will be happy to take him,” Nazarov said. “But if he comes to St. Petersburg for three-four months to regain form and then leave for the US, why would I need him? And not just I, why would the team and the club need him?”
But SKA owners insisted on bringing Voynov to the team. And Voynov may not make more than the Traktor offer, according to Tyzhnykh. Voynov wants his daughter to attend a school where subjects are taught in English. And such school exists in St. Petersburg, and not Chelyabinsk.
The longer the contract Voynov signs in the KHL, the larger his paycheck is likely to be. He is likely to command a salary around $3 million per year, if he decides to stay for three years. As a rental player until the end of the season, he may get less than $1 million. There will be no official information, however, because the KHL does not make contracts public.
Voynov’s agents may want to insist on a three-year deal also hoping the scandal may be forgotten in the U.S.; and at 28, Voynov may try to come back to the NHL, still in his prime.
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