Larry Brooks of the New York Post has reported that New York Ranger‘s star forward Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence from the team in wake of a politically motivated article from Russia. The article states that his former Vityaz head coach alleges that the ex-forward of the Moscow Region club beat an 18-year-old girl in Riga, Latvia in 2011.
The backlash seems to have come from a July 2019 interview with the Vsemu Golovin YouTube channel and eviscerated Putin. It was a bombshell interview in which the 2020 Hart trophy finalist – barefoot in his living room in Saint Petersburg – criticized Putin’s entire regime.
Brooks reports that Andrei Nazarov, who is currently the head coach of the KHL’s Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, has repeatedly criticized Panarin for the forward’s outspoken beliefs regarding Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s regime. Nazarov is a known Putin supporter.
The New York Rangers have released a statement that reads: Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story. This is clearly an intimidation tactic being used against him for being outspoken on recent political events. Artemi is obviously shaken and concerned and will take some time away from the team. The Rangers fully support Artemi and will work with him to identify the source of these unfounded allegations.