The Slava Voynov case has had a direct impact on the way the L.A. Kings are handling Patrik Bartosak’s arrest for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend.
Bartosak faces a felony charge of second-degree assault for allegedly strangling the unnamed woman, along with seven simple assault charges for allegedly grabbing her, pushing her against a wall and slapping her. He also is charged with three counts of criminal threatening and stalking the woman at her workplace.
“This morning our Club suspended Patrik Bartosak for his actions resulting in his arrest in Manchester, NH on November 16,” the Kings said in an unattributed statement. “We take this matter very seriously. Our response in this matter reflects our extreme disappointment, particularly given the programs we have instituted internally and the commitment our organization has made to educating our players on the prevention of domestic violence. This is the first step in an ongoing process as we continue to gather information related to this incident and monitor the legal proceedings.”
Bartosak, a native of the Czech Republic, was a fifth-round selection by the Kings in 2013 NHL draft. He played 28 games last season for the AHL champion Manchester Monarchs. The franchise relocated to Ontario, Calif., this season, but he recently returned to New Hampshire to play for the Monarchs, now the ECHL affiliate of the Kings, on a conditioning assignment.
The Kings’ handling of this situation reflects a culture change that was enacted in the wake of the Slava Voynov incident. Voynov, a veteran of two Stanley Cup championships with Los Angeles, was arrested for domestic abuse last year but was not immediately disciplined by the team. Instead, he was suspended indefinitely by the NHL and missed the final 76 games of the 2014-15 regular season. The Kings added their own suspension this summer, but that related to an injury he suffered in non-hockey activities.
Voynov eventually pled no-contest to a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury to a spouse and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Facing deportation upon his release, he left the U.S. voluntarily and is now playing in the KHL.
In response to the arrest of Voynov and former teammates Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards on unrelated drug charges, the Kings organized a platform of conduct awareness training initiatives that “reflect the values and principles of the franchise.”
“During the past year, we have been extremely diligent in developing an educational strategy and comprehensive programs in an effort to ensure that the troubling incidents that occurred last season are not repeated,” Dan Beckerman, chief executive of AEG, said in a statement. “We have conducted research, gathered information and forged partnerships that will better prepare our players and staff for challenges that could impact their behavior away from the workplace.’’
Among those efforts was “Kings Over Violence,” a campaign designed to foster awareness of sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. The team held educational sessions conducted by the organization Peace Over Violence for all players during training camp. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bartosak was in attendance.