MOSCOW, November 2. /TASS/. Russian defenseman Vyacheslav Voynov, who in September returned home from the US NHL, said on Monday he was in good physical shape and was ready to play for the national ice hockey team at the Karjala Cup in Finland later this week.
The Karjala Cup is the first stage of the European ice hockey tournaments and will be held in Finland’s Helsinki between November 5 and 8.
"I feel perfect if we speak about my physical shape," the player said. "But I am lacking playing practice at the moment. There is nothing I can do about it. I am waiting for the chance to start playing again. I am missing hockey very much."
Last Friday, Voynov was enlisted in the team’s preliminary roster for the tournament in Finland and Oleg Znarok, the head coach of the Russian national team, said it would be up to the player himself to decide whether to go to Finland or not.
"It will be Voynov’s decision whether to play or not at the Karjala Cup," Znarok said. "Everyone supports Vyacheslav. He has been on the ice for a long time. We are now gathering for the [national team’s] training session. If he says he is ready, he is going to the Karjala Cup. If he says he is not ready - he is going to St. Petersburg for the training session of SKA [hockey club]."
Commenting on Znarok’s Friday statement, Voynov said "Yes, it was me to decide on what sort of physical condition I am in."
"I believe that I am in a perfect shape," he said. "Now it is up to the coach to decide if I will be of any use to the team. But I am ready to play."
Voynov was a member of the Russian national team playing at last year’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and was one of the key contributors for his NHL’s Los Angeles Kings club prestigious Stanley Cup trophies in 2012 and 2014. Following the 2012-2013 season Voynov signed with Los Angeles Kings a six-year contract worth $25 million.
In October 2014 he was arrested on the suspicion of domestic violence against his wife, Marta Varlamova. On July 2, 2015 an out-of-court settlement was achieved. He pled guilty to a minor offence. Voynov was jailed on July 7 to be released ahead of time on September 4. On September 17 he declared his intention to return to Russia.
Los Angeles Kings drafted Voynov in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft in 2008 (32nd overall). His suspension was the longest-ever in the NHL since 1927. Last time he played for the LAK on October 19, 2014.
On Thursday, Voynov signed a three-year contract with one of the leading clubs in the Russia-led Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), SKA St. Petersburg and was reported to begin practices with his new team starting Saturday, October 31.
The Karjala Cup in Finland is held annually as part of the Euro Hockey Tour (EHT) since 1992. Russia won the Cup a total of six times and the most cups belong to the hosts, who boast a total of 11 titles. Last year Russia finished in the third place having lost two of the three matches it played.