Artemi Panarin denies assault allegations by Russian tabloid

New York Rangers star player Artemi Panarin takes team-approved leave after a Russian tabloid published allegations by a former coach that he attacked a woman in Latvia nearly 10 years ago. years, which he denies.

Andrei Nazarov, a former NHL tough guy who coached Panarin in the Continental Hockey League, revealed to the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, on Saturday, that Panarin attacked an 18-year-old Latvian woman in a bar in a hotel in the capital of Riga after a match, in December 2011.

Nazarov claimed that Panarin was knocked out. to the lady with « several powerful blows ». He added that he later learned that the Latvian authorities had investigated the incident, but that no action had been taken, as local officials had negotiated with the police not to pursue the case, allegedly after a money transfer.

Nazarov mentioned that he decided to speak out about the alleged incident because he disagreed with Panarin’s repeated criticism of the Russian government. Panarin played for Nazarov with Vityaz Chekhov from 2010 to 2012.

« Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies all allegations in this fabricated story, » the Rangers said in a statement. This is clearly a bullying tactic used against him for being outspoken about recent political events. Artemi is obviously shaken and worried and will take time away from the squad. The Rangers fully support Artemi and will work with him to identify the source of these unsubstantiated allegations. « 

Panarin has been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and last month expressed his support on social media for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was arrested last month on his return to Moscow and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for violating the conditions of his release.

Panarin, 29, has played in the NHL since 2015 and was a finalist for the league’s MVP last season. He won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 2016 with the Chicago Blackhawks where he played two seasons, before playing two more at Columbus, then he signed a contract for $ 81.5 million. US for seven years with the Rangers in 2019.

His Rangers teammate Ryan Strome praised Panarin as a person, calling him a role model for himself and other young players.

“I think he knows how much we love him, how much we care about him, how much we appreciate what he does for us,” Strome said. We wish him the best and we are obviously giving him time to work things out. « 

Panarin leads the Rangers with 18 points (5 goals and 13 assists). The Rangers will play their next game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Coach David Quinn mentioned he and his players spoke about Panarin’s absence ahead of practice on Monday.

“We’re going to help Artemi through this difficult time,” said Quinn. We must continue to support each other as a team. It’s hard to get over losing a player like Artemi on the ice, but we have to find a way to do it. « 

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