Recently a trend has been developing. Big name KHL stars have been leaving Russia to go to America and play for teams there. Some players have been busts like Vadim Shipachyov in Vegas. Others have worked out great like Evengii Dadonov with the Panthers. This offseason the NHL should be getting more players From Russia with Love (007 shoutout). Headlining this group is Ilya Kovalchuk, a former first overall pick who is expected to join the New York Rangers. Another former NHL player interested in returning is Slava Voynov. However, he won’t generate as much fanfare as Kovalchuk. If anything Voynov will likely keep fans away from the rink. Why? Voynov’s 1st NHL tenure ended in disgrace. Voynov was on the rise. He was a great second best defender behind perennial Norris contender Drew Doughty on the feared Los Angeles Kings blueline. However everything changed on October 20, 2014 when Voynov was suspended from the NHL indefinitely. Why? Voynov was arrested for domestic assault. In my opinion, domestic abuse is one crime in the Top 5 Worst Crimes that someone can commit. Reportedly, the night of October 19, 2014, Voynov and his wife Maria Varlamova were attending a team Halloween party. During the party, the couple got into a spat and Voynov ended up punching his wife which resulted in her costume glasses breaking. When the couple returned home, they continued their dispute. This is when things got really bad. Voynov pushed and kicked his wife on the ground numerous times and he pushed her into a flatscreen TV that opened a 1.2 inch laceration above her eye. At the hospital, Varlamova reportedly told a nurse that the October 19th incident wasn’t the first time Slava had been violent with her. According to her testimony, she admitted she was scared of her husband. Voynov eventually plead no contest to a reduced misdemeanor charged and served 2 months in jail. After, rather than go through the long and arduous deportation process, Voynov returned to Russia. Voynov and his wife are still married and have a child according to reports.
So why am I digging up old bones? I’m not. Today a report out of Russia said that Voynov wants to return to the NHL. Although he could be a solid Top 4 defender, the NHL team that signs him risks losing a lot of fans as he is despised by many in the NHL fanbase for what he did. According to reports, the Panthers are 1/5 teams interested in Voynov. Although he would be a stabilizing presence on the Florida blueline, the Panthers shouldn’t go anywhere near him for several reasons. The Panthers struggle to bring in fans as it is and many fans on twitter have said that if the Panthers do sign him, they will not be Panther fans anymore. This is a risk as it will lead to decreased revenue and would turn off a lot of people. Also as evidenced in the documentary Home Team, the Panthers locker room is very tight knit. Do you want to poison that with a wife beater? However, I am all for second chances. I think if Voynov apologizes and agrees to do some counseling program then I won’t mind it if the Panthers sign him. Until then I don’t want to see him in South Florida.