Panarin Takes Absence Leave After Allegations


By — Joey Hudson

Artemi Panarin is a 29-year-old Russian ice hockey player who is currently playing for both the New York Rangers as a left wing and the Russian National Ice Hockey Team as a forward. Panarin currently has 5 goals and 13 assists in the NHL 2020-2021 season, making up a total of 18 points. Overall in his career in the NHL, Panarin has a total of 433 points, with 153 goals and 280 assists making up that total with only 405 games played. Also given the nickname “Breadman” from his former teammates and coaches on the Blackhawks, Panarin was setting himself up to be one of the most accomplished NHL players of this era. 

However, one of Panarin’s former coaches from the KHL, Andrei Nazarov, publicly accused Panarin of assaulting an 18-year-old woman at a Russian bar in 2011. The accusation was posted in a Russian newspaper without any solid proof that would back up Nazarov’s claim.  The KHL made a statement following this accusation stating that they, “have not been aware of or received a complaint in relation to any incident involving Artemi Panarin in December 2011,” and that they would have investigated these claims had they known about it in 2011. Many of Panarin’s former teammates from the KHL have also defended Panarin, one his former teammates, Jon Mirasty, telling ESPN, “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.” Mikhail Anisin, another one of Panarin’s former teammates from the KHL, recalled that he remembered an incident between Panarin and a woman in 2011, however it was never violent and that Panarin paid the police off, which was another claim made by Nazarov. 

The rumor is believed to have been started through Vladimir Putin, the current president of Russia, his administration, or supporters of Putin. In the past, Panarin made it clear that he was not in favor of Vladmir Putin, making many criticisms towards Putin and voicing his dislike for the Russian president through podcasts he appeared in. It’s believed that the spark for these accusations to develop is after Panarin made a political post on social media following the arrest of Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader who is well known for his stance of anti-Putin and anti-government. On this post, which was posted on both Twitter and Instagram, Panarin showed support for Navalny, writing in the caption, “Freedom for Navalny.” 

Panarin’s current team, the New York Rangers, have also voiced their support for Panarien, firstly showing their support for him by stating, “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.” The official statement continues with, “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.” The National Hockey League, the Rangers, or Panarin have not specified when Panarin will return back on the ice and it’s also unknown whether Panarin will return at all for the season.