Kings' Darryl Sutter, Dean Lombardi back suspension of Slava Voynov

Kings' Darryl Sutter, Dean Lombardi back suspension of Slava Voynov
Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is seen during a game against the Detroit Red Wings in January. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)

There was no hesitation in Kings Coach Darryl Sutter's voice or manner when he was asked if the NHL's swift action in suspending defenseman Slava Voynov was appropriate.

"Absolutely," Sutter said Tuesday. "It's very appropriate."


Sutter was answering questions in a room full of reporters at the team's practice facility in El Segundo. This was the day after the 24-year-old Voynov was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and the league suspended him indefinitely even before he was released from jail in Redondo Beach. He has not been charged.

These were Sutter's first public comments on the matter. Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi also talked about it for the first time in a smaller briefing with a handful of reporters in his office.

The league told Lombardi early Monday morning there would be a suspension.

"There was no doubt," Lombardi said.

He immediately recognized the seriousness of the situation. It was underscored, also, by the fact that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman took the step of calling Kings owner Phil Anschutz early Monday, Lombardi said.

"I didn't question them at all," Lombardi said of the NHL. "To me, it was 'I get it.' ... There was no question it was going to happen. It was a question of how long and let the process go through."

Lombardi said there had never been any behavior issues with Voynov in the past.

"Nothing at all," Lombardi said. "He's never been late for practice. ... Anything you might consider involving character issues, off the rink. ... Even when we drafted him, he kept his word about coming over here right away when he could have made a ton of more money in Russia.

"All his character checks were on the positive side."

Voynov's attorney, Craig Renetzky, has started his own investigation of the matter, interviewing witnesses. He said the alleged victim had not retained counsel but believed she may be "in process" of doing so.

"Based on what I'm finding is that things are not always what people's first interpretation were," he said in a telephone interview with The Times, regarding his investigation.

Lombardi had a conference call with the league scheduled for later Tuesday but did not expect a lot of answers, calling it "new turf" for the NHL. He said he had not spoken to Voynov, but Sutter did, according to Lombardi.

Also, Lombardi talked about the shift in the NHL and in professional sports.

"There's always that line between innocent until proven guilty, right -- so that's where the rub is -- are you surprised by what they [the NHL] did? Particularly in this climate? No. In the old days, before this, you saw the other cases in the old days, the leagues would always say, 'Well, wait a minute.' There's a criminal process that has to take place before they can react."


Said Sutter: "Obviously, we have strong feelings about it. That's as far as we'll go. That's the best way to put it. Obviously the league has made a strong stand on it."

He was asked if he talked to the players about these issues and values.

"I would think we're probably about the same age and I'm sure you talk to your children about things like that," Sutter said. "A lot of these players are like children, too, to me."