Defenseman Slava Voynov‘s NHL suspension will be lifted at the midpoint of the 2019-20 season, according to a decision by arbitrator Shyam Das.
Voynov, then with the Los Angeles Kings, was suspended indefinitely by the NHL following his domestic violence arrest on Oct. 20, 2014. He eventually was convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
In April, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman ruled that Voynov would be suspended for the entirety of next season and the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs for “unacceptable off-ice conduct.”
The NHLPA appealed that suspension to Das, a neutral arbitrator.
Das upheld that suspension, but found that Voynov should be “credited” for having already served 41 games of the suspension during the 2018-19 regular-season. Hence, it will be lifted midway through next season.
“In his decision, Arbitrator Das confirmed that there was substantial evidence to support each of the Commissioner’s material factual findings as well as the quantum of discipline imposed. Arbitrator Das described his decision to grant Mr. Voynov some ‘credit for time served’ for a portion of the 2018/19 season as being due to various ‘highly unusual facts and circumstances [which] were not contemplated by the drafters of [the CBA] and do not easily fit into its procedures,'” the NHL said in a statement.
“While we do not believe Mr. Voynov was entitled to any ‘credit’ for time missed during 2018/19 season, we accept Arbitrator Das’ conclusion that the precise factual context here was unusual — including the fact Voynov has not played in the NHL since October 2014, and that he did not play professional hockey at all during the 2018/19 season.
“Taken in its totality, we are satisfied that Arbitrator Das’ decision supports our strongly held views that the conduct engaged in by Mr. Voynov in this case was completely unacceptable and worthy of significant League-imposed discipline. The decision also confirms and reaffirms the Commissioner’s broad authority under the CBA and applicable League Rules to establish — and to enforce — appropriate standards of conduct for individuals involved in the National Hockey League.”
The Kings terminated Voynov’s six-year, $25 million contract after the arrest and placed him on their voluntary retirement list. Voynov has not played in the NHL since then, having returned to Russia to play three seasons with St. Petersburg in the KHL. Voynov also competed for Russia in the 2018 Olympics.
The NHL said in April that contingent on “good behavior,” Voynov could sign with an NHL team after his suspension was lifted. That would appear to mean that an NHL team could sign Voynov by the midpoint of next season.
The NHL is the only one of the four major North American sports leagues without a specific domestic violence policy. Every incident is treated on a case-by-case basis and is determined by Bettman.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan contributed to this report.