The Russian Hockey Federation has removed Slava Voynov from the World Cup roster and replaced him with Tampa Bay Lightning rearguard Nikita Nesterov. The RHF said it “did everything possible” to get Voynov cleared to play, but didn’t have enough time to solve the issues.
Defenseman Slava Voynov won’t be suiting up for Russia at the World Cup of Hockey.
The Russian Hockey Federation released a statement Monday acknowledging that Voynov will not participate in the tournament, and named Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov as Voynov’s replacement on the Russian blueline. Switching Nesterov in for Voynov comes after weeks of back and forth between the RHF and NHL centering on Voynov’s eligibility to play at the tournament.
Voynov, 26, remains suspended by the league following domestic violence charges regarding an October 2014 incident. Voynov has remained suspended by the league since the day of the charge. Voynov pleaded no-contest to the charge in July 2015, resulting in a 90-day prison sentence, after which he was taken in by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Voynov then chose to leave the U.S. willingly and head back to his native Russia.
However, even amidst the controversy surrounding Voynov’s selection to the World Cup roster, the RHF has been trying to get Voynov cleared to play at the tournament.
When the selection was made, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear that he did not expect Voynov to be allowed to compete at the tournament, but that didn’t stop the RHF from trying. Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed Voynov’s addition to the roster, too, saying that the RHF “was told that he was not eligible to play in the World Cup. What happens from that moving forward in terms of what somebody may try to do is a different story.”
The RHF continued to insist that Voynov should be eligible, though, and even compared Voynov’s situation to that of Dany Heatley, who was sentenced to three years probation after a September 2003 crash that resulted in the death of teammate Dan Snyder.
Even with Monday’s announcement that Voynov has been replaced, the RHF said it “did everything possible in order to fix the situation, but the NHL has its own procedures and time-frames,” before adding they’ve been “forced” into replacing Voynov. He will, however, continue to be considered for other major international competitions, per the RHF.
“This is down to not having enough time to sort out the issues at hand surrounding his NHL disqualification,” the RHF said in a release.
In Nesterov, the Russians add a young blueliner with some promise. The 23-year-old scored three goals and nine points in 57 games in 2015-16 for the Lightning, and he added one assist in nine playoff games. Nesterov has generally played third-pairing minutes, and will likely do so for Russia at the World Cup.
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