New York Rangers star left winger Artemi Panarin was accused by former KHL coach Andrei Nazarov of beating up an 18-year-old woman while at a bar in his home country of Russia in 2011 on Monday. The allegations came in the form of an article in a Russian publication. Three days later, the Kontinental Hockey League is saying they were never made aware of any incident alleged related to the claim.
The KHL has "not been aware of or received a complaint in relation to any incident involving Artemi Panarin in December 2011," ESPN reported. The league added that an investigation would have occurred had they been made aware of any situation because "we take any allegations of misconduct incredibly seriously."
So far, no victim has come forward.
Some KHL teammates have come to the defense of Panarin since the allegations came out. Kip Brennan, who played with Panarin in 2011, told ESPN he didn't "hear or know of anything like that happening." Another teammate, Jon Mirasty, told ESPN, "I barely think anything like that would've happened, and I'm sure I would've heard about it. And I don't understand why it would be brought up 10 years later. Sounds like a hoax to me."
One teammate from that year, Mikhail Anisin, told Russia's Sport-Express the he does remember an incident between Panarin and a woman in 2011, but it played out differently than what their former coach is saying. He also shot down Nazarov's claim that the cops were paid off, citing how little money players made.
"Artemi didn't beat anyone, maybe pushed one girl a little bit, nothing more," Anisin said,
Following the accusation, Panarin announced he was taking a leave of absence from the team. The Rangers then released a statement on the matter saying, "Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story."
The article in Russia that includes the allegations against Panarin came after the Ranger spoke out against against Russian president Vladimir Putin and showed support for opposition leader Alexei Navalny on social media.
The Rangers addressed this possible correlation in their statement, saying "This is clearly an intimidation tactic being used against him for being outspoken on recent political events."