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NHL, TEAMMATE COMMENTS ON PANARIN SITUATION; REPORTER CHECKS ON DETAILS OF ALLEGATIONS WITH LOCALS

Feb 22, 2021 à 15h12      TIM TUCKER
As you can imagine, this has likely been a very tough day for Artemi Panarin. The New York Rangers star forward is now on a leave of absence from the team after reports surfaced in Russian media that he had allegedly beat up an 18-year-old girl in 2011 after she refused to have sex with him. Panarin and the Rangers are denying the allegations, claiming Panarin is the victim of a smear campaign after speaking out several times against Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also has the full support of the league.

"We are completely supportive of Artemi Panarin and the Rangers and will continue to monitor the situation," the NHL's Senior Vice President of Communications John Dellapina told the New York Post.

Following the Rangers practice Monday, teammate Ryan Strome was asked about the situation.

"Can't really say too much," said Strome. "I think he's in good hands, the Rangers do an unbelievable job of having good support system for players... He's such a good person, good teammate, he's been a great role model for me."

"Bread knows how much we love him," Strome concluded

Meanwhile, Latvian reporter Aivis Kalniņ has been checking with people in Riga, Latvia, where Panarin's former coach Andrei Nazarov alleges the incident occurred while Panarin was playing for Vityaz of the KHL.

"Anything and I mean anything Andrei Nazarovs says in media cannot be taken seriously. He's not very honest or smart," said Kalniņ.

Kalniņ said he's checked with the local hotel and bar where Panarin allegedly met the 18-year-old 10 years ago.

"Hotel spokesperson as well as multiple other sources have told me that no such incident has occurred. One person who I spoke to answered with 'No, absolutely not. If you look at what Nazarov said and do a little research you'd instantly see through his lies,'" said Kalniņ

Nazarov played close to 600 regular season games in the NHL with several teams, including San Jose, Tampa Bay, Calgary, Anaheim, Boston, Phoenix and Minnesota. Since then, he has been serving as a coach in the KHL and is the current bench boss of HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk. He is a staunch Putin supporter and has spoken out several times on Panarin's political views.

Needless to say that this is one of the strangest things to have happened in the NHL in quite some time.



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