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NHL indefinitely suspends LA Kings defenceman Slava Voynov over domestic violence suspicions

10/20/2014 10:45 EDT | Updated 12/20/2014 05:59 EST
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The NHL suspended Los Angeles Kings defenceman Slava Voynov indefinitely Monday after the two-time Stanley Cup winner's arrest on suspicion of domestic violence.

Voynov was booked and released at the Redondo Beach jail after his arrest early Monday morning at a Torrance hospital on suspicion of corporal injury to a spouse, Redondo Beach police Lt. Joe Hoffman said. The 24-year-old Russian defenceman posted US$50,000 bail.

"These developments are of great concern to our organization," the Kings said in a statement. "We support the NHL's decision to suspend Slava Voynov indefinitely during this process, and we will continue to take appropriate action as the legal proceedings and the investigation by the NHL take their course."

Craig Renetzky, the lawyer representing Voynov, told The Associated Press that Voynov hasn't yet been charged with a crime. His next court date is Dec. 1, Renetzky said.

"We're still investigating with the police," Renetzky said. "It's very early on in the proceedings. We're just asking everybody to be patient, because arrests don't always lead to charges and convictions."

The soft-spoken Voynov, who speaks limited English, was a key contributor to the Kings' two championship teams in the past three seasons, playing an aggressive two-way game from the blue line. The Siberia native also played for Russia at the Sochi Olympics.

"He's not familiar with our legal system, so he had a lot of questions," Renetzky said.

Redondo Beach police responded to a neighbour's report of a woman screaming and crying in Voynov's neighbourhood on Sunday night, but couldn't find anyone, Hoffman said. About 90 minutes later, Voynov was arrested after a nurse at the Torrance hospital called police to report the alleged victim was being treated for injuries that "alarmed" the emergency-room staff.

Police didn't release the alleged victim's name or her relationship to Voynov, citing her confidentiality rights. A couple must be married, in a relationship, cohabitating or have a child together for an alleged crime to fall under the statute cited by the arresting officers.

Hoffman said additional charges could be filed against Voynov because a child was in the house shared by the defenceman and the alleged victim, although Voynov isn't the child's father.

The NHL's collective bargaining agreement allows it to suspend players during a criminal investigation "where the failure to suspend the player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the league."

The NFL has received widespread criticism for its handling of recent domestic violence charges against several players.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said he is confident in his league's policies, noting in a recent interview in Los Angeles that the league provides education and frequent counselling to its players.

Voynov will be paid during the investigation.

Voynov is the second prominent Russian NHL player to be accused of domestic violence in a year. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov was arrested last October after allegations were brought against him by his girlfriend, but he wasn't suspended by the league, and the case was dropped in December.

Voynov earned a spot in the Kings' lineup as a rookie during their run to their first Stanley Cup title in 2011-12. He scored a career-best 34 points last season, and he has two assists in six games this season, including an assist in a victory over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.

The Kings signed Voynov to a six-year, $25 million contract extension in June 2013, paying him $3 million this season with escalating salaries through 2019.

The Kings had a day off from practice Monday after winning their last four games despite the season-long injury absence of defenceman Jake Muzzin. Los Angeles' next game is Thursday at home against Buffalo.

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Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed to this report.

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