I’m all in favour of a good conspiracy theory; they often bring to light an underlying issue which the popular media chooses not to report because it could upset mainstream beliefs. However, the Russian media’s response to the recent criminal charges against Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche goaltender and prospective Sochi 2014 Russian netminder, is one conspiracy theory that I cannot come to appreciate. The Russian media’s response has essentially hinted that the conflict is all part of a sinister plan to derail the nation’s chances at an Olympic hockey medal. Igor Ananskykh of Russia’s Physical Culture Ministry recently said, “The first thing that comes to my mind is that it is an effort to weaken our national team.”
Really? That’s the first thing that comes to mind? A young lady (Varlamov’s girlfriend, Evgeniya Vavrinyul) had been allegedly knocked down, kicked, had her chest stomped on, and dragged by her hair; yet, the first thing to come to mind is the idea that it’s all a ploy against your nation’s Olympic medal hopes.
Across all media, so much more has been made about the suspect and not the victim; perhaps in an effort to respect the victim’s privacy but more likely for the greater interest the public has on the suspect’s career. What does this say of our society’s mindset that concern is mostly given to whether or not the goalie will make his next start? What should be discussed is the crime of abuse and domestic violence that is so rampant. When the final decision has been made by courts, I would hope (if guilty), the scenario might be used as a catalyst to create social conversation on the problems of domestic violence.
I respect the difficult scenario the National Hockey League and Colorado Avalanche find themselves. On one hand, Varlamov has not been penalized by the league or team and has made all of his scheduled starts in net. Given that he has not yet been convicted, maybe it’s fair that he continues to play for the Avalanche. On the other hand, given his involvement in these criminal investigations, what message is the National Hockey League sending by Varlamov remaining unpunished? I would say the NHL is currently enjoying a popular image outside of criminal activity, but their response to this controversy could send the wrong message to fans and players alike about any future potential criminal investigations.