Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Slava Voynov Jersey Card

Back in October when the news broke about Slava Voynov allegedly being involved in a domestic dispute, I cautioned to let the justice system run its course. Well, part of that includes trial dates getting pushed further and further back all the time, first from March until April, and now until July.

His wife refuses to testify so far, and refuses to explain why; from the start, she has argued that her English wasn't good enough to get her husband off the charges of domestic violence, and her only statement regarding the case is ''I do not believe Slava tried to hurt me'', which is still neither a denial nor a confirmation that (voluntary) physical violence did take place - and that's what the trial will (hopefully) try to determine.

What's messed up beyond the specter of the public watching something that perhaps should be better left private (i.e. ''wait until there is news to report at least'') - and the fact that, if true, is an incident that Western society wants to eliminate on a behavioral standpoint - is the more trivial and yet just-as-legally-complicated issue of Voynov's employer being a sports team (the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, of course) operating under a strict salary cap, and Voynov being a star defenseman whose salary accounts for a good portion of the allotted cap space and that while in society Voynov is still considered innocent until proven guilty, the NHL has basically strapped the Kings with penalties as though the organization was responsible for the alleged actions itself, while the player is merely ''suspended with pay'' (because the contrary would be against the law).

You see, by pushing Voynov's trial date after free agency begins, the Kings do not have any idea whether they will be allowed to replace his roster spot and cap space, and thus might operate ''a man short'', which is literally what they have done on the ice on a handful of occasions this season. If they do choose to replace him, not only are they sort of admitting they think he is guilty (and thus show the rest of the team that it won't have their backs if any allegations or trouble comes their way), but should he be cleared, will have one too many players on their roster and will be forced to trade people away, as the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks have done this year when faced with a cap crunch, and both usually-dominating teams are struggling to maintain their playoff position as we speak, with a week and a half left in the regular season.

The salary cap was supposed to even the odds for small-market teams, instead it hinders good teams' progress and forces unnecessary rebuilds and fire sales; the small market teams still suck, by the way, and last season saw the Kings and New York Rangers face off in the Stanley Cup Finals, with Chicago and the Montréal Canadiens as runners-up. Four of the richest teams in the league.

And yet, in the grand scheme of things, the most important point of order is to sort Voynov's criminal case. I'll point out, however, that in many high-profile cases, when police officers or District Attorneys make out-of-context and unsubstantiated claims to the press, trying to sway public opinion in their favor, it usually backfires; a courtroom is a place where straight, boring facts have prescience over personal vendettas. Usually. Mostly. Hopefully.

So, to keep us waiting until July (or later, you never know...), here's Voynov wearing the Kings' black (home) uniform, from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Fleer Showcase (card #S-V of the Stitches insert sub-set), featuring a game-worn white jersey swatch:
Yes, the ugly design on the right side of the card is useless and detracts from pretty much everything else once your eyes set on it. I don't get it.

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