All evidence is that the allegations about Panarin are completely false

We’ve all had a full 24 hours to digest the shocking news that Artemi Panarin is taking a leave from the New York Rangers to deal with accusations of an assault a decade ago.  More information is coming to light about the allegations from various news outlets.  Here’s a recap:

Larry Brooks in the New York Post reported that the attack on Panarin was not initiated by the Russian government, but was generated by his former coach, Andrei Nazarov.  The report was that Nazarov “went rogue” in an attempt to curry favor with the Russian Ice Federation and one of their leaders, a close Putin ally.

Journalists in Russia are investigating the story and so far, have found no one who can corroborate the story

Journalist Aivis Kalniņš, based in Latvia where the incident is supposed to have occurred, spoke with representatives at the hotel and reported this:

“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’.”

Others are poking holes in Nazarov’s story.  Nazarov said the most of the team had retired because they had a flight to Minsk the next morning.   The fact is that the Vityaz team didn’t play in Minsk for nine days so there is no way that they would have flown there the next morning.

It’s also a fact that Panarin left from Riga to play in the Eurochallenge Tournament in Ljubljana, Slovenia from December 15-17.  There was a report that Nazarov served as a coach for the Russian team at that tournament (not verified).

As Brooks pointed out, Panarin was not a star on the team, scoring only 12 goals in 38 games that season.  The idea that the team would pay off the authorities to the tune of 40,000 euros ($55k including inflation) just doesn’t make any sense.

It’s important to note that so far, not a single person has responded in any way to verify the charges made by Nazarov.  With all of the inconsistencies in Nazarov’s story, it supports the response from Panarin that it is completely false.

How is Panarin doing?

Kalniņš tweeted that he had been in touch with folks close to Panarin.

RT, the Russian English-language news site reported the following from Panarin’s partner:

“Panarin’s model partner, Alisa Znarok, included a Russian flag emoji as she responded to fans asking after his welfare.  “How is Artemi?” she asked her Instagram following of more than 55,000. “Support him. We are with you at this difficult moment.”

The future

All evidence so far, points to this story as being completely false.  If there was any reason to believe that it was true, both the NHL and the New York Rangers wouldn’t have been so vehement in their repudiation of the allegations and in their support for Panarin.

The NHL’s SVP/Communications John Dellapina:was no less supportive, telling the Post “We are completely supportive of Artemi Panarin and the Rangers and will continue to monitor the situation.”

There’s no denying that Panarin was shaken by the report and that his leaving the team was the right move.  The most important thing right now is for him to make sure that his family in Russia is safe and that means finding out if this was a state-orchestrated attack or if it indeed was Nazarov “going rogue. ”

If it was the latter, then every game that Panarin is away from the NHL is a victory for his attacker. If Nazarov’s goal was to disrupt Panarin’s life and shed doubt on his character, he has achieved that.  These allegations need to be put to rest so that Panarin can get back to work and through his excellence, show those who would attempt to intimidate him that their words mean nothing.

We should look forward to the fact that when Panarin returns to play at Madison Square Garden, there will be fans in the arena and he will get the reaction and support that he deserves, in person.