Artemi Panarin
(Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports)

On Monday, February 22nd, the New York Rangers announced star player Artemi Panarin would be taking a leave of absence. Panarin’s former coach from the KHL, Andrei Nazarov, accused him of getting into a physical altercation with an 18 year old girl in December of 2011. 

Nazarov is a known Putin supporter. According to the New York Post, he once called for foreign players criticizing Putin “to be jailed.” 

In mid-January, Artemi Panarin made an Instagram post in support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. It was expected that he would receive some backlash…but boy oh boy…I don’t think anyone saw this coming. 

The former coach is the singular allegation, no one else has stepped forward. According to a recent ESPN article, several former teammates from the KHL have come forward in support of Panarin. Kip Brennan said he didn’t “hear or know of anything like that happening.” Jon Mirasty said “I barely think anything like that would’ve happened, and I’m sure I would’ve heard about it…And I don’t understand why it would be brought up 10 years later. Sounds like a hoax to me.”

Since the announcement, no police evidence or court records have been brought up and we have yet to hear from a victim. Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly, says the NHL is looking into the allegations. The NHL is the only North American hockey league without a specific domestic violence policy, they handle each case individually. 

As of now, Artemi Panarin is at his home in Connecticut and does not have any plans to go back to Russia. He spends most of his summers there as his family, including his grandparents, are still living there. However, there is no timeline for his return to the Rangers. 

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