New York Rangers: Artemi Panarin taking leave of absence from team

Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Artemi Panarin is taking an immediate leave of absence from the New York Rangers.

We were met with bombshell news earlier today when Larry Brooks of the New York Post Tweeted that New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin would be taking a leave of absence from the team after a political hit piece against the player was published in Russia.

More from Puck Prose

The article claimed that Panarin beat up an 18-year-old girl in Riga, Latvia in 2011 while playing for KHL outfit Chekhov Vityaz. The accusations came from Panarin’s former Head Coach, Andrei Nazarov, who is the current Head Coach of the KHL’s Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.

According to Nazarov, who has come after his former player before in regards to his political leanings, Panarin was at a bar in Riga in 2011 after a game when he “sent the 18-year-old citizen of Latvia to the floor with several powerful blows.” Nazarov also claimed that there was a trial before a bribe of 40,000 euros in cash let Panarin off the hook.

Now, these are of course serious accusations that have to be taken seriously but, per Mollie Walker, also of the New York Post, Vityaz has consistently and repeatedly criticized Panarin for the forward’s outspoken beliefs about Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia.

Panarin is arguably one of the biggest and most famous athletes from Russia to have taken a stand against Putin, and he has used his platform and his social media accounts to speak out against the Russian government and various issues throughout the country.

Artemi Panarin takes leave of absence from the New York Rangers

Recently, Panarin took to his Instagram account to show support for Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader against President Vladimir Putin and that, along with a YouTube video in 2019 that saw the forward air his political frustrations, have both been heavily lambasted by some in Russia.

And, according to Larry Brooks of The Post, retribution was feared after Panarin had shared an Instagram post in support of Alexi Navalny with the caption “Freedom for Navalny” on 1/21. It is worth noting that Panarin does still have family in Russia, including grandparents.

Panarin’s very outspoken thoughts against Putin have shocked many given that it is incredibly rare for Russian athletes to speak out against leadership in their home country, and we have seen the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin even support President Putin.

The New York Rangers have since released a very strong-worded statement, making it clear that Artemi Panarin denies all of the allegations made against him, and the team have stated that this is a clear “intimidation tactic” being used against the 29-year-old. The Rangers have also stressed that they will support Panarin while he is away from the team.

We aren’t going to speculate here because this seems to clearly be a political matter, but it is worth pointing out that no one has come forward about these allegations made against Artemi Panarin, and there doesn’t seem to be any concrete evidence to support the alleged event back in 2011, although any such allegation of assault does have to be taken seriously and we can’t stress that enough.

Next. Different venue, same result for Pastrnak. dark

The New York Rangers are in very clear support of their franchise player, however, and it remains to be seen how long Artemi Panarin will be away from the team for. He currently leads the Blueshirts in points with 18 points (5 G, 13 A) in 14 games this season, and he was also a finalist for the Hart Trophy in 2019-20 after scoring a career-high 95 points (32 G, 63 A) in 69 games. The New York Rangers are in action against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday (7:00 p.m. ET), and they will have to adapt without one of their most offensive potent weapons for the foreseeable future.