Semyon Varlamov will start for the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night in Dallas just two days after the goaltender was arrested on charges of second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault of someone he knew.
Varlamov posted $5,000 bail and the court on Thursday granted him permission to travel.
Varlamov is innocent until proven guilty, but given the severity and troubling nature of the allegations, on top of Varlamov's past 36 hours including a night spent in jail, it seems crazy that he is fit to start an NHL game already, let alone that the team will let him.
Either way, there is not much else preventing the Avs from continuing with their plans for the road trip. The team did not call up any other goalie.
Colorado head coach Patrick Roy explained to reporters Friday why he is giving Varlamov the start:
"Why wait?" Avs coach Patrick Roy said after the team's morning skate. "We're all aware of what happened, but we just feel that he's our guy. We have confidence in him and feel that it's good for him to play tonight."
Roy said he had a handful of conversations with Varlamov on Thursday, and said he and the team are in "full support" of him. (Denver Post)
Regardless of Roy's thoughts on the matter, this doesn't look particularly great for the Avalanche to throw Varlamov back in there, especially in the first game since the alleged incident. It's not a surprise that a team would support their own player, whose attorney has maintained his client's innocence. That said, this is a very sensitive situation both privately and publicly.
The NHL may yet get involved in the matter as well. In a statement given to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner said:
"At this point, we are monitoring the developing legal situation and do not intend to intervene in that process. There may come a point in time where we feel it is either necessary or appropriate to take a different approach, but that's not where we are right now. We are and will remain in close contact with the club, and will see how the underlying facts unfold."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman can suspend a player who is involved in a criminal investigation at his discretion, per the current collective bargaining agreement. It sounds like the league still needs more time and information to come out of this investigation.
This is an incredibly tricky situation for all involved. For now, Varlamov and pretty much everyone else is at the mercy of the law. At this point, he is innocent until the court says otherwise and has a right to resume his life.
As much as the Avs would like it to be business as usual, it will be anything but for some time.