Former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was granted dismissal of his misdemeanor domestic abuse conviction Monday in a move that could clear a path for his return to the NHL.
The motion was granted the day Voynov’s three years of probation ended following his no contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury to a spouse in 2015. Voynov served almost two months in jail and returned to his native Russia rather than face deportation.
He remains suspended by the NHL but, with his criminal record expunged, can request a hearing with Commissioner Gary Bettman and apply for reinstatement. The Kings terminated Voynov’s six-year, $25-million contract in 2015 but retain his rights and could trade him for assets if he were reinstated.
“Any decision to reinstate Slava Voynov into the league is in the hands of the NHL,” the Kings said in a statement. “It is premature to comment prior to the NHL’s ruling.”
Deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press that Voynov’s status hasn’t changed but he can now petition for reinstatement.
Voynov was required to serve jail time, pay a fine and undergo domestic abuse counseling and community service after the incident in October 2014, where when his wife, Marta Varlamova, told police that Voynov punched her left jaw during a Halloween party. Voynov later choked her with both hands, pushed her to the ground and kicked her, and shoved her into the corner of a flat-screen television, according to the police report.
Voynov did not appear during Monday’s hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Torrance. His attorney, Blair Berk, said that Voynov had fulfilled all of his court-ordered requirements and completed twice the community service initially requested.
“We believe Mr. Voynov has well-earned the respect, again, of this court, [and] has fulfilled each and every term of his condition,” Berk told Judge Eric C. Taylor.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Frank Dunnick argued that Voynov could not properly be monitored when he’s not in the local community and said the evidence of Voynov’s compliance was insufficient. Voynov has played in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League the past three seasons.
“There’s no realistic way for us to go and find out if Mr. Voynov has complied with any of these terms,” Dunnick said. “As I told the court before, it’s a farce to think that he’s actually on probation when he’s halfway around the world with no realistic way for this court to exert any control or supervision.”
Taylor said Voynov’s situation wasn’t different from similar cases in terms of complying from outside the country.
“I’ve had several cases like that,” Taylor told Dunnick.