Author: Mike Halford

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Voynov takes plea, gets 90 days in jail plus probation

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Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov will spend 90 days in jail and receive three years of probation after accepting a plea deal in relation to domestic assault charges.

On Thursday, Voynov entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a spouse — his wife, Martina Varlamova, who declined to make a victim impact statement.

More:

Per the OC Register, Voynov is to surrender no later than July 14 for jail time.

Today’s development nullifies Voynov’s felony domestic violence trial, which was to begin next week. In October, the Kings d-man was charged after an incident as his Redondo Beach house, with prosecutors alleging Voynov choked and hit Varlamova, and pushed her into a TV.

This doesn’t figure to be the end of the Voynov saga, though, as several questions remain:

— Will the Kings seek to void his contract, like they did with the Mike Richards deal?

— Is Voynov facing the possibility of deportation to his native Russia?

— Will the NHL lift his indefinite suspension?

More to follow…

Sharks hire Boughner, Hedberg as DeBoer’s assistants

Windsor Spitfires v Niagara Ice Dogs
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San Jose has filled out Peter DeBoer’s coaching staff with two individuals DeBoer knows very well.

Ex-NHLers Bob Boughner and Johan Hedberg will be behind the Sharks’ bench next season, the club announced on Thursday. Both will work as assistant coaches, with Hedberg pulling double duty as the club’s goaltending coach.

“I’ve known Bob for more than 20 years and he’s an experienced winner, having won championships in both juniors and internationally,” DeBoer said in a statement. “Johan played for me in New Jersey and had a very long and successful career in the NHL as a player.”

Boughner, 44, is a former Columbus assistant that’s spent the last few years coaching in OHL Windsor, where he became the first bench boss in CHL history to win two Memorial Cups and two Coach of the Year awards.

Hedberg, 42, has been AHL Albany’s goaltending coach for the last few seasons, a job he took immediately after retiring from the NHL. DeBoer praised Hedberg as a “student of the game,” adding that coaching “came naturally to him.”

Hedberg and Bougher will now join a San Jose hockey operations department that already included Larry Robinson (director of player development), Corey Schwab (goaltending development coach) and Mike Ricci (development coach).

In related news, the Sharks announced on Thursday that vice president and assistant GM Wayne Thomas has retired.

Curtains on Broadway: Martin St. Louis calls it a career

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four
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One of the greatest diminutive players in NHL history is walking away.

Martin St. Louis, the 2004 Hart Trophy winner as league MVP, announced his retirement on Thursday after 16 seasons.

“I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride,” St. Louis, 40, said in a statement.  “I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years.

“I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.”

Undrafted out of the University of Vermont, St. Louis bounced around the IHL and AHL before making his NHL debut with Calgary during the ’98-99 campaign. He wouldn’t become a star, though, until the Flames cut him loose and he signed on in Tampa Bay.

During his 13 years with the Lightning, St. Louis emerged as one of the best and most iconic players in franchise history, cementing himself in Bolts lore during the 2003-04 campaign. That year, he led the team to its first and only Stanley Cup, topped the NHL in points (94) and took home a bounty of hardware by winning the Hart, Art Ross and Lester B. Pearson trophies.

Though his divorce from Tampa Bay was messy — he demanded a trade at the ’14 deadline, and was acrimoniously shipped off to the Rangers — St. Louis carved himself a new chapter in New York, helping the Blueshirts advance to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with the team.

This year, he and the Rangers made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final before losing to his old Lightning mates.

All told, St. Louis was named to seven All-Star Games, earning All-NHL Second Team honors four times and All-NHL First Team honors once. His 1,033 career points are 70th all-time in league history.

“I have had the good fortune of working with some incredible players and trainers throughout my career who I am grateful to also call good friends,” St. Louis said. “I am also thankful to all of the fans who have supported me through the years; it has meant so much to me. I have dedicated my life to being the best player I could be and now want to turn more of my focus to my three boys.

“I look forward to this next chapter of my life and the time I will have with my family.”

Caps landing ‘affordable’ Williams a sign of the new free agency

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One of the big stories from Day 1 of the free agent frenzy?

The lack of frenzy.

No crazy deals, no staggering sums of money, no real head-shaking moves — all of which led to folks walking away from Wednesday with the same realization:

Free agency ain’t what it used to be.

Exhibit 1A could be Justin Williams. A four-time 20-goal scorer, three-time Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe winner, he took a pay cut ($3.25 million, down from $3.65M) and shorter term (two years, from four) to join the Capitals — a team that, according to Brian MacLellan, waited around until Williams’ price point made sense.

“We targeted a top-six right winger as we went into free agency, and made calls on all the guys we had interest in and monitored the market as we went along,” MacLellan said on Thursday. “At some point Justin became more affordable to us, and we started to lean his way.

“It worked out in the end.”

Now, granted, part of the Williams deal stems from the fact he turns 34 in October and is coming off a down year in Los Angeles. Those factors certainly played a role. But it’s not like Williams is ready to be put out to pasture — he still scored 18 goals and 41 points last year for a tired, underachieving Kings team riddled with off-ice distractions.

In trying to further explain how this situation unfolded, MacLellan said the free agent market was just “different” this year, and “leveled off” rather quickly.

More, from ESPN:

“I’m just stunned at what transpired out there,” said one veteran agent who didn’t get his way for his clients.

Agent Thane Campbell had projected better things for his client, Williams, but at the same time was satisfied he found a nice fit for the 2014 playoff MVP.

“Being on a contender and a great opportunity trumped more money,” Campbell told ESPN.com late Wednesday night.

There is something to what Campbell said, as the Caps represent a great opportunity.

Williams is already being trumpeted as the guy that can get the team over its Game 7 demons — a nice little narrative, but one the veteran winger downplayed — and, as per MacLellan, is looks like Williams will provide experience and veteran savvy on a line with talented youngsters Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

“I think [Williams] has all the intangible qualities we desire,” MacLellan explained. “He’s got a great resume with the three Cups, the Conn Smythe and his performance in the playoffs. I think all those things, plus all the things you hear about his character make him the perfect fit for our top six.”

When’s the last time you heard a GM talk about an affordable perfect fit?

Welcome to the new free agency.

Shattenkirk’s agent downplays trade rumors

Kevin Shattenkirk
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After another first-round playoff exit, many expected some sort of roster shake-up in St. Louis — and over the last week or so, rumors have swirled about a potential Kevin Shattenkirk trade.

On Wednesday, the Post-Dispatch tried to gauge the legitimacy of said rumors…

Now, the Blues have put Shattenkirk in the mix, at least gauging interest in what the All-Star could bring, according to league sources and media reports that have cited Edmonton, Columbus and Philadelphia as possible partners.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong did not immediately return a message late Wednesday. Jordan Neumann, Shattenkirk’s agent, told the Post-Dispatch that he believed the reports are “not true.”

It’s easy to see why Shattenkirk would be in demand. At 26, he’s emerged as one of the NHL’s top young offensive defensemen — 44 points in just 56 games (abdomen injury) last year — and, in January, earned his first All-Star nod. He also carries a very reasonable $4.25M cap hit and is under contract through 2017.

Which begs the question — why would St. Louis move him?

Well, the Blues have Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester locked into sizable deals through 2019. That means the club might not have the money available to extend Shattenkirk, given he’d be in line for a sizable raise. What’s more, GM Doug Armstrong has some intriguing young d-man prospects in the pipeline — Joel Edmundson, Jordan Schmaltz, Petteri Lindbohm and Tommy Vanelli — that could push for a NHL gig by ’17.

And there is, of course, the shake-up theory. Moving Shattenkirk would be a bold move that reverberates throughout the room, something the club might consider given its recent playoff failures.