How the New York Rangers helped Artemi Panarin during his leave of absence
The news out of Russia hit Artemi Panarin like a ton of bricks. His former KHL coach, Andrei Nazarov with a political axe to grind and a history of outlandish rhetoric claimed a young Panarin assaulted a girl back in 2011.
For context, Nazarov is a huge Putin supporter and targeted Panarin who is an outspoken critic of the Russian president.
Almost within hours of the story breaking the Rangers released this statement:
“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. 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.”
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Rangers used security connections to help Panarin
Soon after the allegations were made, Panarin was granted a leave of absence that lasted two weeks.
“We gave the Breadman his space and time he needed to figure things out,” former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said on the Cam and Strick Podcast. “The biggest thing when those things are happening back home – he has family there. We don’t know what’s going on in the world. I’ve been to Russia but you don’t know how mad people get or what they will do so we just gave him his space to work through it.”
The Rangers played a big role in helping Panarin and his family out during that time.
“We have security staff and people in place that had a lot of connections just making calls and making sure everyone is fine,” Gorton revealed about the effort to make sure he felt comfortable that his family was fine. “It was about letting him get through it mentally as far as feeling confident that his family was going to be ok.”
Artemi Panarin was not that worried for himself
The Rangers fun-loving forward has one of the most upbeat attitudes in the NHL. His disposition day to day is always positive, but his concerns in the matter was for family overseas.
“He was probably less worried (for himself) than most people think. He was just worried for his family – he has grandparents back there that he’s looking after,” Gorton explained. “They were having issues with their health and he was worried about them being able to see the right doctors and not getting shut off. It was about putting his mind at peace.”
Finally, Andy Strickland pointed out Panarin’s accuser, Andrei Nazarov actually played in Boston while Gorton was there. He asked if Gorton thought about reaching out to him. That was not something the former GM had any intention of doing.
“On this one, everyone knows that Nazy can be off,” he said. “So, I didn’t want to give it more attention than was needed.”
Back in March, Panarin was asked about the situation. “It’s probably not the time to discuss it right now,” he explained. “I have nothing to hide and I will address everything after the season but right now the focus is on the game.”
Panarin has yet to issue any additional comments on the matter. However, countless former teammates have already discredited Nazarov’s claims.
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