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Accountability, Slava Voynov, and the Los Angeles Kings

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Warning: post contains discussion of both sexual and domestic violence. Proceed at your own discretion.

It would be easy, now, to move on. To let things go. To let the Kings slide. That is certainly what they would like. Frankly, as this has been one of the most depressing seasons I have ever endured as a hockey fan, it is what I would like. It wouldn't be right, though.

The Kings released a statement that would paint themselves in an extremely flattering manner should we take it at face value. In it, the Kings claim that they have publicly stated that they will not tolerate domestic violence since Voynov's arrest.

This is not true.

The Kings were infuriatingly silent on the matter at best. While they publicly stated support for the NHL's decision to suspend Voynov, this came with no other judgments. This certainly doesn't read as a condemnation of domestic violence. It's an acceptable statement, to be clear, but it isn't what they say it is.

From there, the Kings remained stoic. I really don't have a problem with this on its own. I think most teams would benefit from just keeping their damn mouths shut most of the time anyway. Stoicism doesn't lend itself to impassioned denunciations on violence against women, though.

While the Kings didn't use their mouths to cast judgment on Slava Voynov, they did use their actions. By allowing Voynov to practice with the team, they tacitly supported a man then-accused of domestic violence. As I said, at best they were simply quiet. At worst, they were actively toxic. They were certainly not active in their criticism of domestic violence.

Dean Lombardi has been much more forthright about how he personally failed in his handling of the situation. Unfortunately, his and the Kings' claims of ignorance on topics related to violence against women ring incredibly hollow when you think about what has actually transpired during Lombardi's tenure with the Kings.

Drew Doughty's case is well-documented. I don't wish to discuss his innocence or guilt here right now, but this was a chance for Lombardi and the Kings to learn about violence against women. Granted, they probably believe (or hope) that Doughty is innocent. However, that is not an acceptable excuse for continuing to ignore this subject. This is especially true if you consider that this was not even Lombardi's first exposure to sexual violence among his employees during his time with the Kings

Prior to Drew Doughty, former Kings' assistant coach Mark Hardy was charged with felony sexual assault against his 21-year old daughter. He admitted to fondling her in her bed while drunk, though the charges were eventually dropped. This was another situation from which the Kings could have shown the slightest bit of conscience and grown as an organization. Instead, Hardy returned to be an assistant coach for their ECHL affiliate. No growth. No learning. Nothing.

Attempts to rewrite or forget history have been made at every step of this process. This is unacceptable. Time and time again, the Kings displayed what a long road they have to travel organizationally. They have shown signs of improvement, and I even believe them when they say they wouldn't have brought Voynov back under any circumstances. In the coming days, they will announce initiatives and programs to address player conduct. That is well and good. It also does not excuse the past year, nor does it prove that the Kings have turned a corner. It will take a lot more than a few programs to prove to me that the Kings value the lives of women and all victims of abuse.

I believe Dean Lombardi when he says that the past 7-8 months have been a learning experience for him and his organization. I cannot believe that it took this long.