Artemi Panarin: NHL star takes leave after Russian media left him ‘shaken and worried’

Russian star “shocked and worried” over “unsubstantiated allegations” against him, says team statement posted on Twitter.

The statement refers to a report by Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda in which a former Panarin coach alleges that Panarin assaulted a woman at a Latvian bar in 2011.

“Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies all allegations in this fabricated story,” Ranger officials said in the statement. “This is clearly an intimidating tactic used against him for being candid about recent political events.”

Rangers have said Panarin, 29, is a target of intimidation because of his political views, which have criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Panarin recently made a publication on social networks in support of the imprisoned Putin opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

CNN has contacted the Kremlin for comment.

NHL.com reported that the league “said it supports Panarin and the Rangers, and will continue to monitor the situation.” The site did not mention anyone in the NHL by name.

The NHL did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, but retweeted the Rangers’ statement. CNN has reached out to Panarin’s agent Paul Theofanous for comment.

In six seasons, the left wing has scored 153 goals and had 280 assists.

Panarin played for three NHL teams – the Rangers, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Chicago Blackhawks. He was named the league’s top rookie in 2016 and was twice selected as an All-Star at the end of the season.

Prior to playing in the NHL, he was a member of Russian teams in the Continental Hockey League, which also has teams in Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan and Latvia.

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