Voynov wants to return, the Rangers and the NHL don’t need him

Voynov and wife (BRAD GRAVERSON/AP)

Slava Voynov wants to come back to the NHL. The 28 year old, talented defenseman would bolster any team’s blue line but the message it would present is extremely negative. It’s a message that the Rangers or any team should avoid for obvious reasons.

The Backstory

Voynov has not played an NHL game since October 19, 2014. The league suspended him for beating his wife. Tragically, this was not a single incident but a history of extremely physical and abusive violence against her. Upon his conviction the L.A. Kings terminated his contract and he’s been playing in the KHL ever since.

Now Voynov wants to make an NHL comeback and has already spoken to Gary Bettman and the NHLPA. While not much information surrounding those talks have come out, it is believed that he could be allowed to comeback and the Kings would hold his rights.

Second Chances

I am a big believer in second chances, but I would argue that Voynov has already gotten way more than he deserves. First off, he was welcomed with open arms into the KHL and was also allowed to compete and win Gold in the 2018 Olympics.

More importantly, his wife and 2 children gave him the most important second chance by staying by his side. I don’t know what the underlying issues were that caused him to do those heinous acts, but I hope that he has taken care of it for the sake of his wife and kids. Things seem to be ok with the couple as they recently shared a post on Instagram together.

The League Needs to Lead on these Issues

Right now the NHL is sitting on a ticking time bomb regarding their denials around concussions and CTE. If you are not aware there are lawsuits against the league and as things leak out, they are not looking good here. For more on this read the following series by Rick Westhead, “NHL Under Oath”.

The NHL and its teams have an opportunity to send a clear message to the fans and the world that domestic abuse will not be tolerated. While the topic of CTE in hockey is a hotter and more direct correlation to the sport, domestic abuse is no less significant. Gary Bettman and the league owners must say resoundingly and in unison, “NO!” to Voynov.

I repeat, I hope that Slava is fully rehabilitated. I say this primarily for his family and not much else. The NHL is not denying him a playing career but not letting him play. That’s already been proven by the KHL that he can continue to earn a living and provide for his family playing hockey.

Although, after what he did, not once but over a period of time he should never be allowed to earn that opportunity to play for the greatest hockey league in the world again. The NHL can make a statement here. I hope they make the right one.


Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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