Artemi Panarin Takes Leave of Absence

The New York Rangers have confirmed that Panarin will be taking a leave of absence from the squad. There aren’t many details on the situation at the moment, but the Rangers are expected to release a statement at some point. USA Today’s Vince Mercogliano speculates that the absence could be due to some of Panarin’s comments against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Panarin still has family in Russia, so his absence may be due to concerns about their safety. A former coach has also alleged in a Russian newspaper that Panarin beat up an 18-year-old goal in Russia in 2011, so the absence could be related to that as well. All of these reports are just speculation currently, but it’s clear that whatever is going on is bigger than just hockey.