LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Defenceman Slava Voynov announced Wednesday that he will return home to Russia with his family, leaving the Los Angeles Kings in the wake of his legal troubles on domestic violence charges.
Voynov announced his intentions in a statement through his agent, Rolland Hedges. The two-time Stanley Cup champion apologized to "those in and around the game of hockey who have been affected by my situation."
“Earlier today, I notified the National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Players’ Association and the Los Angeles Kings of my decision to immediately begin the formal process of returning to Russia with my family. I sincerely apologize to those in and around the game of hockey, who have been affected by my situation, and I also wish the Players of the LA Kings success in the future," the statement read.
The Kings also released a statement later on Wednesday, stating the team had already decided Voynov would not play again for the club and the team had placed an in-house deadline of September 17 to terminate his contract. However, the defenceman's decision to return to Russia, "makes the termination unnecessary."
"As we have publicly stated since Mr. Voynov’s arrest last year, the Kings organization will not tolerate domestic violence. As part of that commitment, we will soon announce a series of new Conduct Awareness Training Initiatives that reflect the values and principles central to our franchise," the Kings' statement concluded.
Voynov pleaded no contest in July to a misdemeanour charge of domestic violence against his wife, Marta Varlamova. He was initially charged with a felony after a prolonged fight with his wife in late October.
Police said Voynov punched, kicked and choked Varlamova, sending her to an emergency room with injuries. Through the couple's lawyers, Varlamova later characterized the incident as an accident.
Voynov accepted a plea deal shortly before his scheduled trial, and he spent two months in jail before his release two weeks ago, when he was taken into custody by federal immigration officials. Voynov seemed likely to be deported after losing his work visa.
He has been suspended by the NHL since his arrest in late October 2014. The Kings also suspended him this summer when he injured himself in an undisclosed non-hockey activity.
Voynov's decision to leave North America will clear roster space and salary cap room for the Kings, who signed him to a six-year, $25 million contract extension in June 2013.
The 25-year-old Voynov won the Stanley Cup as an NHL rookie with the Kings in 2012, and he was the No. 2 defenceman on Los Angeles' second championship team in 2014. He also played for Russia at the Sochi Olympics, establishing himself as one of the nation's top defencemen.