Wednesday September 23rd, 2015

Slava Voynov is back on the ice.

The former L.A. Kings defenseman, who returned to his homeland voluntarily last week rather than be deported in the wake of his domestic violence conviction, skated with the Russian national team on Wednesday. The Kings retain his NHL rights and it is possible he could one day return via a waiver process.

Voynov is expected to sign with a KHL team soon. His rights in that league are owned by Traktor Chelyabinsk but other clubs, including SKA St. Petersburg, are said to be interested in his services. Boris Rotenberg, the owner of SKA, was in attendance at the national team skate in Novogorsk.

“It all depends on the player’s choice,” Rotenberg told SovSport of Voynov’s future. “It’s his life, his family. We’ll be happy with any decision.”

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Russian national team coach Oleg Znarok said that Voynov looked good despite spending the summer in jail. “He’s not in shape yet, but Slava said he did some training. And he’s only 25 years old. I think it will not take much time until he’s in shape.”

Znarok evaded a reporter’s question about if Voynov had been treated unfairly by the American legal system.

“We are happy he’s here,” he said. “My advice to him will be to forget everything. Start over. He’ll be viewed the same as everyone else here.”

“We start with a clean slate,” said Rotenberg.

Voynov is expected to be part of the Russian side that will participate in the Karjala Cup that takes place in Finland in November. His participation in future tournaments, including the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, remains up in the air.

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“We can figure that out later,” Rotenberg said. “It's hardly necessary now to speak about politics. We all want to go to Canada, Voynov, me and everyone else on the national team. We don’t know yet whether Voynov will be able to obtain a visa to travel to Canada. We will, however, insist that Voynov is part of the roster. It makes no sense for him not to be part of the team. Why would we weaken ourselves by not including him? It makes no sense.”

Rotenberg himself may not be able to attend the tournament. He, along with 15 other high-ranking Russian officials, was sanctioned by the U.S. government in 2014 for providing material support to his country’s invasion of the Ukraine. It’s not yet known whether Canada would reject his visa application as a result.

Znarok also confirmed that Russia would like to host the World Cup in 2020.

“We plan to participate in the tender for the year 2020,” he said. “We believe that Moscow is worthy to hold this prestigious tournament, as well as other cities in the world.”

 

• Boston’s thin blue line suddenly looks a whole lot thinner.

The Bruins announced on Wednesday that veteran Dennis Seidenberg will undergo a surgical procedure to repair a lumbar spine disc herniation. He’ll be out of action for approximately eight weeks as a result.

The 34-year-old blueliner lost half of the 2013-14 campaign after undergoing knee surgery, but played in all 82 games last season.

Despite his age, Seidenberg was expected to play a larger role for the Bruins in 2015-16 after their trade of top-four defenseman Dougie Hamilton to Calgary. Now the B’s are left with a top-six of an aging Zdeno Chara along with Zach Trotman, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Matt Irwin and Kevan Miller. That’s a borderline bad group that could put the B’s in a deep hole early on.

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It’s likely that Don Sweeney is already fielding calls from vultures who are looking to dump an unwanted contract on the B’s in exchange for picks or prospects, but the rookie GM has to tread carefully here. While he carefully built nearly $5 million of cap space during the off-season, and could move Seidenberg’s $4 million hit on long-term injured reserve to clear additional space, he doesn’t want to get stuck with a dead contract that might limit his maneuverability later on. That doesn’t rule out a trade for a veteran. It just suggests that he’ll take a long look at his options before making a commitment.

While a deal could happen, it’s likely that Sweeney will first scour the waiver wires as camps wind down in search of a treasure in another team’s trash. And if that doesn’t work, he may choose to give one of the team’s top prospects, like Joe Morrow (acquired in the Tyler Seguin deal) or Colin Miller (picked up in the Milan Lucic trade), a chance to prove themselves with the big club. To earn that shot, though, one of them will have to stand out as camp progresses.

However it plays out, it’s clear the Bruins are now a team to watch as we steam toward the season opener.

Hot links

• Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi explains his team’s new personal conduct initiatives. The groundbreaking program was implemented after a summer defined by off-ice issues.

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Remembering the great American life of Yankees legend Yogi Berra

• MLB.com writer Lindsay Berra recalls how her grandfather, the late Yogi Berra, taught her to love the game of hockey. Rest in peace, Yogi.

• At least one NHL star is paying close attention to the Papal visit. “I think he’s awesome. I think his ideals are definitely a change of pace and I like what he does,” said Washington defenseman John Carlson.

• After losing most of last season to cancer, the mumps and major shoulder surgery, Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta is thrilled to be taking his lumps on the ice. Welcome back, Olli!

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