The NFL's Suspension Of Slava Voynov Proves Ray Rice's Case Changed Sports
Within hours of hockey player Slava Voynov's arrest for alleged domestic violence early Monday morning, the National Hockey League announced that he would be indefinitely suspended from the Los Angeles Kings. Voynov, whose case is being considered for a felony assault charge, posted his $50,000 bail and was released that day.
According to TMZ, the victim was rushed to a hospital in Torrance, California for treatment. The injuries were so significant that hospital staff called the police to report the assault. Voynov accompanied the victim to the hospital, where it emerged that he was the alleged attacker. In a statement, the Kings said:
These developments are of great concern to our organization ... 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.
A fitting response, right? Right. But the NHL wasn't always so swift to act on these allegations — or even act at all.
Last October, Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly knocking his girlfriend down, stomping on her chest, and dragging her by her hair. Prosecutors dropped the charges that December, citing new information that led them to believe they would not win a conviction against Varlamov.
But while the case was being investigated, Varlamov continued to play.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly quickly addressed the league's lack of response in Varlamov's case in light of this new arrest and suspension, preemptively trying to ward off comparisons to the NFL's recent high-profile mishandling of domestic abuse cases.
"I think the landscape has changed for all of us over the past six months," Daly told The Hockey News. "But that's not the only reason for the difference in treatment. Circumstances were different in Varlamov. I can’t get more specific than that."
Certainly the landscape has changed, but much too late. Ray Rice's visceral case of domestic abuse sent shock waves through the sports community, breaking that specific incident outside of the realm where hush-hush insiders could keep him on the field. The sports community is terrified of the public ire aimed at the NFL, and they're doing everything they can to stop it.
Though Daly was unwilling to reveal details about Varlamov's 2013 arrest, I highly doubt that the organization would have continued to let him play with any pending abuse investigation as they did just a year prior. And if not for the right reasons, they would act swiftly if only because they learned from the NFL's public relations nightmare.
It is a change for the better, regardless. But rather than the new normal, this should have been the starting line.
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