In the wake of allegations made against New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin, who’s accused of assaulting an 18-year-old woman in 2011, several people connected with the Kontinental Hockey League are speaking out in support of the NHL star.
In a statement provided to ESPN, the KHL — in which Panarin was a part of when the alleged incident took place — says it has “not been aware of or received a complaint in relation to any incident involving Artemi Panarin in December 2011.” The league said it would have investigated such claims “as we take any allegations of misconduct incredibly seriously.”
Nazarov, who hasn’t worked in the KHL since 2018, told a Russian outlet the assault occurred during a road trip in Riga, Latvia. Panarin denied the allegations via a statement through the Rangers, calling the story a “fabrication” and “clearly an intimidation tactic” for his outspoken political beliefs.
On Monday, the New York Post reported that four former teammates of Panarin’s insist the allegations “don’t add up.” Jon Mirasty, who played under Nazarov on the same KHL team, told the Post his former coach’s claim seems “really fishy,” it “doesn’t sound like him”, and that he “would have heard something” about it.
Mirasty also questioned the timeliness of the accusation.
On Jan. 21, Panarin published ain support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and the player has been publicly critical of President Vladimir Putin in the past. Nazarov, meanwhile, is a known Putin supporter.
According to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the league is looking into the allegations while Panarin remains in his home in Connecticut. The Rangers star forward still has family still in Russia, including his grandparents.
The allegations, which the Rangers called “unfounded,” add to an already dramatic season that has seen the club hoard headlines for all the wrong reasons. Just a few weeks ago, the Rangers put defenseman after getting into a physical altercation with goaltender Alexandar Georgiev.
On the ice, the Rangers are currently 6-7-3 and sixth in the East Division.