NHL analyst Mike Milbury referred to one hockey player’s domestic abuse conviction as an “unfortunate incident,” as he offered commentary for NBC’s coverage of the men’s match between Team USA and the Olympics Athletes from Russia on Saturday.
Speaking about OAR player Slava Voynov, Milbury said, “He left a huge void in the Los Angeles Kings’ defense, otherwise may have gone on to win more than the championships they did already.”
“This guy was a special player, and an unfortunate incident left the Los Angeles Kings without a great defenseman,” he added.
Voynov was previously an Los Angeles Kings player until he was indefinitely suspended in 2014 following an arrest for domestic violence. After his wife accused him of choking, hitting and pushing her into a television, he pleaded no contest on a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury to a spouse. A judge sentenced him to 90 days in jail.
As commentator Kenny Albert recounted Voynov’s path to becoming a competitor for Team OAR in Pyeongchang, Milbury lamented the “huge void” left on the Kings with Voynov’s absence.
Milbury later defended his comment, arguing he was merely providing context for Voynov’s suspension.
“As I said at the time when he was suspended, the league made the right call, 100 percent,” Milbury said.
Several of Voynov’s OAR teammates have argued he “deserves to be” at the Olympics this year.
“I know that he’s a good player and obviously he deserves to be here,” Mikhail Grigorenko said Tuesday, according to local Florida television station WFLA. “He’s one of our leaders on defense, so I’m not surprised he’s here. The around-hockey stuff, there’s people that decide that.”