Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov has informed the team he plans to return to his native Russia less than two weeks after being detained by U.S. customs officials regarding his domestic violence conviction.
Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register provided a statement from Voynov's agent:
Voynov, 25, was facing potential deportation after entering a no-contest plea of corporal injury to a spouse following an incident with his wife, Martina Varlamova. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and was picked up by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sept. 4, which was planning to decide whether Voynov could continue working in the United States or face deportation.
A second-round pick in 2008, Voynov was suspended for all but six games of the 2014-15 season while under investigation. He returns to Russia having played in 190 NHL games, scoring 18 goals and posting 63 assists. In a statement released Wednesday (h/t Pro Hockey Talk's James O'Brien), the Kings indicated they had already planned to terminate Voynov's contract:
During this period of detention, the Los Angeles Kings decided he would no longer play for the team. The method by which we would ensure this outcome was something we carefully considered and we established a deadline of September 17 – the beginning of our 2015-16 training camp – to reach this outcome. Recently it became evident to us that our conclusion to this process would be to terminate Mr. Voynov’s Standard Player’s Contract. However, Mr. Voynov’s announcement today of his intention to leave the United States and return to Russia makes the termination unnecessary.
It's likely Voynov will continue his hockey career with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL. The club's general manager, Sergei Gomolyako, said he would have no problem welcoming Voynov back despite the arrest.
“He’s a Chelyabinsk hockey player and his rights belong to our club,” Gomolyako told Russia's TASS news agency (h/t Geneen Pipher of Hockey VIPs Magazine). “[Voynov] is a great defenseman and a two-time Stanley Cup winner, how could I not offer him a job?"
Voynov has not issued a statement beyond the one provided by his attorney.
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