Slava Voynov proved his commitment to the Los Angeles Kings by playing well in the AHL during the NHL lockout.
The Kings did not want him playing in Russia. General manager Dean Lombardi asked him to use the lockout to complete his transition to the North American game.
The KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk was willing to pay Voynov big dollars, but Slava stayed the course.
“They were all over him again,” Lombardi said back in January. “‘Come back here. Let them let you go. You shouldn’t have to go to the minors. You won a Stanley Cup. We’ll pay you two million dollars.’”
Voynov played for a tiny fraction of that in Manchester.
“Now, the next thing, is the guy going to pout? He, for the most part, played his ass off,” Lombardi said.
“That was a pleasant surprise over there. He didn’t get permission [to go to Russia], and it didn’t affect him at all. He has grown so much as a person and in his maturity since he was drafted here.”
This week Voynov got his payoff: A contract paying him $25 million over the next six seasons. He won’t be taking calls from the KHL any time soon.