Artemi Panarin takes a leave of absence from Rangers

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The New York Rangers have released a statement confirming that Artemi Panarin has been granted a leave of absence from the team

“Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story,” said in the Rangers in a statement. “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.” Andrei Nazarov, who was one of Panarin’s former coaches while playing for Vityaz Chekhov in the KHL, accused the Rangers forward of getting into a physical altercation with a young women 10 years ago. This comes after Panarin has been outspoken against Russian president Vladimir Putin, who Nazarov supports. On Jan. 21, Panarin posted an Instagram message that supported Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Panarin still has family in Russia and he is concerned for their safety.