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As part of an “optional” skate, the Los Angeles Kings allowed suspended defenseman Slava Voynov to practicing with the team this morning. They were subsequently fined $100,000 for violating the terms of Voynov’s suspension which clearly states that he is prohibited from participating “in any team-related functions or activities.”

OC Register reporter Rich Hammond received word from NHL Deputy Director Bill Daly that this includes “practices and other mandatory or optional team functions.”

It’s disappointing that the team would do this. They said they were going to respect the terms of Voynov’s suspension and so far, they have. They complained about his cap hit but remained compliant to the extent of the NHL’s Compliance Bargain Agreement. Today, though, they took it too far. They knowingly and purposely had Voynov practice with the team. While I understand the need to push the edge and test limits, this is one area that should not be grey, especially since the suspension came on the heels of his arrest for domestic violence.

In spite of repeated statements from both Voynov and his wife, he should (and rightly will) remain suspended until his legal status has been cleared. He is free on bail but felony charges have not been dropped nor has he been found not-guilty by a jury. The team having him practice with them suggests that they have no interest other than getting their defenseman back into the lineup as quickly as possible and that they don’t care about domestic violence issues. It was a terrible, disgusting act that was not well-thought out and it’s disappointing to me as a die-hard fan.

Instead of harping on what they did or haven’t done, I want to take this time to promote Hockey Fights DV. This blog is made up of pledges from individuals who have decided to donate money to shelters that are badly in need of funding.

Here’s how it works: Take your your favorite player’s stats times a small dollar amount and make regular donations to a domestic violence nonprofit of your choice. It’s great to get involved and give back to your community, especially if you feel helpless or don’t know how to help when situations like this arise. It takes a lot of courage for someone to leave an abusive situation and these shelters are literally life savers as often these (predominantly) women leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

As a reminder, if you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, you can always call the toll free hotline at 1-800-799-7233. For more information, you can always visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website at the hotline.org.

I’d urge anyone who is hesitant about participating due to financial woes to contact a local shelter to see where if they need supplies or if they could even use volunteers. For example, there is a non-profit organization based in the Los Angeles area called “Friends and Helpers.” Even if you can’t donate money, they always need supplies and it’s usually small things such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, socks, blankets, etc. What we take for granted, many of these survivors have nothing.

So while the Voynov situation was gross and a blatant violation of the rules, at least the (hockey) community can unite to help out a much needed cause. And no matter how small, your contributions will mean a lot to those who need it most.

Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, I sort of grew up an LA Kings fan by default. My dad was into hockey and then my brother got into hockey and I found that I sorta liked this hockey stuff. Go Kings.


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