Artemi Panarin Taking a Leave of Absence From New York Rangers - It's a Truly Bizarre Situation

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Artemi Panarin Taking a Leave of Absence From New York Rangers – It’s a Truly Bizarre Situation

Chicago Blackhawks

This is crazy stuff.

On Monday morning, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that Rangers star winger, and former Blackhawk, Artemi Panarin would be taking a leave of absence from the team. This comes following a story being published in Russia that alleges Panarin physically assaulted an 18-year-old woman in 2011.

On its own, this news is jarring. A player in the prime of his career, and a legitimate star in the NHL, removing himself from the team in light of this story out of Russia looks like a really bad sign. But then, consider this is coming from a pro-Putin Russian publication with “information” from pro-Putin sources. Panarin has been outspoken against Russian President Vladimir Putin for a few years now, most recently posting on Instagram in support of Alexi Navalny, a jailed political rival of Putin.

The New York Rangers released this statement following the news on Monday morning:

If you’d like to read the Russian article in question, you can find it below. I’d suggest Google translate, unless you are fluent in reading Russian, which I am not.

From Isabelle Khurshudyan, a former Washington Capitals reporter and now a Russian correspondent for the Washington Post, there could be more to the story than any of us know yet.

Hopefully this is able to be resolved in a best case scenario. While we can’t know exactly what happened or what is true or not, the overarching theme we are seeing, for now, is that this is a politically-driven “hit piece” by the Russian media.

UPDATE: Aivis Kalniņš, a European and KHL hockey reporter, says that after reaching out to many involved in the story, there are no reports of the incident involving Panarin ever occurring.

We’ll keep up as more unfolds.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.