TORONTO - Slava Voynov remains off the ice and on the salary cap, and the Los Angeles Kings shouldn't expect an exception to be made any time soon.
The 24-year-old defenceman has been suspended without pay since being arrested for domestic violence Oct. 20. He has not been charged.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday that the NHL continues to monitor the situation. It doesn't sound like the league is prepared to change course on how it handles Voynov and the Kings.
Voynov continues to count US$4.17-million against the Kings' salary cap, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. Los Angeles has had to play with 17 skaters instead of 18 once and with five defencemen instead of six another time because of cap problems.
"The CBA expressly provides for what we're doing," Bettman said at the Prime Time Sports Management Conference. "Every team has to manage its salary cap. It's just the way it works."
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said what makes this case unique is that the league doesn't typically suspend with pay.
"How you treat that in the whole context of things is what's been the challenge here," Daly said. "We've had discussions with the Players' Association over the last several weeks to see whether maybe some kind of one-off relief might be available. We haven't been able to reach an agreement."
So far, Bettman and Daly said, the NHL has governed this situation by the CBA.
Voynov is due in court Dec. 1, and the Los Angeles County district attorney has until then to level charges. The NHL seems to be in a holding pattern until then.
"His legal situation continues to be somewhat uncertain," Daly said. "We're kind of waiting to see if there are developments there, but there's no certainty there will be before the beginning part of December. We're kind of playing it day-by-day."
Bettman said part of the process involves interviewing Voynov and those around the situation, something that those parties are not comfortable with while legal proceedings are pending.
How the NHL has dealt with Voynov is a stark departure from a year ago when Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov was arrested on domestic violence charges. Voynov was suspended (with pay) immediately, while Varlamov was allowed to continue playing.
Within the past six months, there has been more of a microscope on how pro sports leagues handle players who are charged with crimes. The NFL was widely criticized for not coming down hard enough on running back Ray Rice after he was arrested for striking his now wife in an Atlantic City casino.
Daly said the Rice situation and the changing climate "probably plays some part in the thought process, but I'm not sure it would've changed the result."
"The facts we had available to us at the time Mr. Voynov was suspended were different than any of the facts we ever had during the Varlamov case," Daly said.
Charges against Varlamov were dropped when prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to render a guilty verdict.
Daly said he is not in direct contact with the Los Angeles County district attorney. While the Kings, NHL and Voynov await a decision on whether he is charged, the team continues to be right up against the salary cap.
Bettman said he did not consider the Kings not being able to ice a full team damage to the integrity of the game.
"The integrity of the game requires teams to comply with the salary cap," Bettman said. "That's what creates the competitive balance. Every team has to manage its cap."
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Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly stated the Redondo Beach district attorney had until Dec. 1 to level charges.