Should the Kings Get Cap Relief During Voynov’s Suspension?

It’s one thing for an alleged incident of domestic violence to thrust one’s playing status into limbo. It is another one still when the resulting uncertainty all but freezes an entire roster.

Such is the unique set of circumstances facing the Los Angeles Kings following the arrest of Slava Voynov by the Redondo Beach Police Department on October 20th. According to the arrest report, Voynov is suspected of causing “injuries that were possibly received during a domestic violence incident” to his wife, Marta Varlamova.

Reacting swiftly, the NHL suspended the Kings defenseman within hours of his arrest. The verbiage within the Collective Bargaining Agreement that applies to this situation reads as follows:

The League may suspend the Player pending the League’s formal review and disposition of the matter 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.

In a fateful twist that has steered both the team and league into uncharted waters, Voynov will continue to be paid until the legal situation is resolved. As a result, the defending Stanley Cup champions have been financially hamstrung for the past month.

Allegations of domestic violence must be taken seriously

Viatcheslav Voynov Kings
Slava Voynov faces an uncertain future. (Ric Tapia/Icon SMI)
It goes without saying that allegations of domestic violence must be handled with extraordinary care. Judging by the steps it has taken, the NHL has clearly learned from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s admitted mistakes in that regard, not to mention its own previous errors. Although NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated that “the facts and circumstances are different” than the Semyon Varlamov domestic violence allegation last season, Varlamov was nevertheless allowed to continue playing until his case was resolved. Ultimately, his case was dismissed.

No decision as to Voynov’s legal status has been rendered by the Los Angeles district attorney’s office as of this writing, and may not be until his scheduled court appearance on December 1. For what it’s worth, Voynov’s wife was reportedly against his arrest.

The Voynov suspension has saddled the Kings with dead cap space

It’s not the suspension itself that has Kings management reportedly fuming over the league’s actions, but the fact that the suspension is with pay. As a result, his entire $4.17 million salary counts against the cap, with no remedy (long-term injured reserve, for example) available. “We’re kind of playing it day by day,” admitted Daly.

The Kings are far from pleased. “We’ve got $4.1 million in salary-cap purgatory,” said senior vice president Jeff Solomon. “How do you get out of that? That’s really beyond our control.”

The problems facing the Kings as a result of the indefinite suspension and dead cap space aren’t just theoretical. Twice in the past month, the team was forced to dress just five defensemen as a result of not having the financial flexibility to deal with injuries. I detailed the most recent instance in this piece earlier this month, one in which the Kings were $160 short of being able to call up a minimum-salaried defenseman to replace the injured Robyn Regehr.

The situation facing the Kings is unique

Robyn Regehr's injury forced L.A. to dress just five defensemen earlier this year. (Mario Boucher Photo)
Robyn Regehr’s injury forced L.A. to dress just five defensemen earlier this year. (Mario Boucher Photo)
The NHL has admitted that the situation is unprecedented and has expressed a desire to forge a negotiated solution to the Kings’ salary cap dilemma. “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,” said Daly. “We haven’t been able to reach an agreement.”

Regardless of the outcome, the uncertainty caused by the salary cap problem likely has already negatively impacted their season. The Kings have lost seven of the twelve games they’ve played since Voynov’s suspension was levied, and have six more to play before December 1. That being said, head coach Darryl Sutter would not allow the situation to become an excuse for the team’s on-ice play. “We deal with distractions all the time,” he said. “We’ve been able to handle a lot of adversity and pressure for three years now. It’s a legal process, and we’ll let that play out.”

As stated previously, Voynov’s legal status will likely be determined on or before December 1. Until then, all bets are off as to whether or not a negotiated solution to the salary cap dilemma can be reached.

What do you think? Should the league and the player’s association move swiftly to give the Kings salary cap relief? Feel free to comment below, or send a tweet to @McLaughlinWalt.

7 thoughts on “Should the Kings Get Cap Relief During Voynov’s Suspension?”

  1. Fkkk Bettman and the shtt heads in Toronto. Fkkk the NHL for their bull shtt. Either figure it out fast or put Voynov back on skates. You don’t punish a team without first letting them know that they need to be prepared for it.

  2. @ron donaldson That’s the problem, they can’t use their other players because of the cap. They have experienced defensemen in the AHL who they can’t call up. They have already had to play games with only 5 defensemen.

  3. In all of this talk about the cap space, people lose sight of the fact that this is negatively impacting Voynov’s team mates through no fault of their own. Because of Voynov’s legal situation other players are being forced to log an unsustainable amount of ice time. The impact of this situation will be felt throughout the season because guys like Doughty, Martinez, Muzzin, Green, and Regher are being forced to play more minutes. That takes a physical toll. The Player’s Association should step up to protect other player’s interests as well, but thus far they have not.

  4. If this happen to Pittsburg or to any Canadian team they would have had cap relief already. Lets be real–there is an East Coast Bias in the NHL. Bitter boy has always been behind the curve on all issues. Please go back to the NBA.

  5. It sounds easy to me, but than again I’m not a lawyer. Anytime a player is suspended with pay due to a personal legal matter that occurred off the ice and away from the team, he should get placed on a “legal reserve” (as opposed to injured reserve). The players salary would be placed in some sort of separate account and than be considered free from the teams cap space.
    I’m sure there are alot of variables involved with the CBA, and the political atmosphere, especially after the NFL debacle. While I think the league and the Kings handled the suspension swiftly and correctly, I don’t think the team should have to absorb the cap hit on his salary. Just my thought.

  6. First, if he was ill or injured they could get cap relief by putting him on I R. If he is convicted, (as in the case of that player taking controlled substances)’ they could get instant cap relief. But the legal system could drag on for a very long time. If he is charged, he is still not convicted until the trial is over . That could easily take more than a year. So the league reacted quickly, but really hadn’t thought this out, had they? Player’s association doesn’t want to pony up, as they would if he was injured. League promised Lombardi some relief and then couldn’t deliver. Just think about the outcry if this was being done to Toronto or Montreal. But because it’s LA, everyone says, “Shut up. You already have two Stanley cups.” Poor planning by the league. Poor handling of the situation once the got into it.

  7. During the season unfortunate circumstances happen whether it is illness, injury or legal entanglements. The Kings need to deal with it. They have other players that need to step up and fill the void.

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