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New York Rangers star winger Artemi Panarin is being accused of a 2011 abuse incident in Russia. Does this hockey player's dislike for Putin play a role?

Why is Artemi Panarin taking leave from the New York Rangers?

Twenty-nine year old Artemi Panarin, star of the New York Rangers, has decided to hang up his skates and step off the ice for a bit following some surprise assault allegations against this hockey star. Nevermind the fact that Panarin bears a resemblance to Theon Greyjoy of Game of Thrones lore . . . this upsetting story still “reeks”. 

The news of Panarin’s departure comes off the heels of a Russian newspaper publishing the allegations from Panarin’s old KHL coach, Andrei Nazarov, which tells how the New York Rangers winger got into a physical brawl back in 2011 with an eighteen year old woman. The testimony by the former coach stated that Panarin “sent her to the floor with several powerful blows” when the 2011 event allegedly took place in Latvia. 

The New York Rangers, who have since been outspoken in the defense of Artemi Panarin’s innocence, claimed that this story is coming to light due to Panarin’s political views against Russian President Vladimir Putin. As well, the Rangers state that this is nothing more than an “intimidation tactic”, and how they will help Artemi Panarin find the source of these allegations. But how sure are we of Panarin’s innocence?

Would the real Artemi Panarin please stand up

Born on October 30th, 1991, Artemi Panarin was born & raised in Korkino, Russia. Growing up as a hockey “protege”, many NHL fans were surprised to see that Panarin was not selected in the 2010 NHL entry draft, which forced the young star to play for the Kontinental Hockey League. 

However, in 2015, Panarin signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was then traded in 2017 to the Columbus Blue Jackets and would go on to set a Blue Jackets-franchise scoring record with eighty-seven points in his second season with the team. 

Panarin takes New York

Not since Home Alone 2 has Kevin McCallister had a single figure taken reins of the New York City spotlight quite like Artemi Panarin, who signed a seven-year contract with the New York Rangers worth $81.5 million dollars in 2019. 

Last season with the team, Panarin was actually a finalist for the NHL MVP award, otherwise known as the Hart Award. While the team is currently four points out of a playoff position in the East division, they’ve managed to string together a couple of wins behind Panarin’s play. 

In fourteen games this season, Artemi Panarin has a total of five goals as well as thirteen assists for eighteen points. Talk about a stud on the ice. 

Panarin despises Putin

Unlike most public Russian figures who opt not to mess with the powers that be – even if they’re not in their home country – Panarin has been vocal over the years of his disapproval of Vladimir Putin. 

In a 2019 interview, Panarin spoke on his frustrations of Russia’s economics, which seem to only thrive in elitist Moscow. Panarin said the following: 

“I may look like a foreign agent right now, but it’s not like that. I think that the people who hush up the problems are more like foreign agents than those who talk about them. If I think about problems, I am coming from a positive place, I want to change something, to have people live better. I don’t want to see retirees begging.”

Panarin melts the hearts of Rangers fans

While it’s unclear as to why these reports out of Russia are only now surfacing, it’s clear that Panarin and the narrative that surrounds him has suddenly flipped. He’s not in a situation where he can focus on the game, and if these reports should be proven false, then we just hope that his legacy won’t take a hit. Stepping away from the team for a short period is the best thing for him to do for the time being.  

Rangers coach David Quinn came to the defense of his young star, giving the following statement: 

“We’re going to help Artemi through this difficult time. You have to continue to unite as a team. It’s hard to overcome losing a player like Artemi from a hockey standpoint, but we’ve got to find a way to do it.”

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