New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence after a Russian tabloid printed allegations from a former coach that he attacked an 18-year-old woman in Latvia in 2011. David Zalubowski/Associated Press

New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence from the team after a Russian tabloid printed allegations from a former coach that he attacked a woman in Latvia almost a decade ago, which he denies.

Andrei Nazarov, a former NHL enforcer who coached Panarin in the Kontinental Hockey League, told Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda in a story published Saturday that Panarin attacked an 18-year-old Latvian woman in a hotel bar in the Latvian capital of Riga following a game in December 2011.

Nazarov told the tabloid that Panarin knocked the woman to the floor with “several powerful blows.” Nazarov added that he later heard that the Latvian authorities looked into the incident but that no action was taken after “authoritative” locals negotiated with the police not to pursue the case, allegedly after money changed hands.

Nazarov said he was motivated to speak about the alleged incident because he disagreed with Panarin’s repeated criticism of the Russian government. Panarin played for Nazarov with Vityaz Chekhov from 2010-2012.

“Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story,” the Rangers said in a statement Monday. “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.”

Panarin has been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and last month posted his support on social media for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was arrested last month upon returning to Moscow and was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for violating terms of his probation.

Panarin, 29, has played in the NHL since 2015 and was a finalist for the league’s MVP award last season. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2016 with Chicago where he played two seasons, went to Columbus for two more and then signed an $81.5 million, seven-year contract with New York in 2019.

BLACKHAWKS: Chicago activated defenseman Connor Murphy off injured reserve.

The 27-year-old Murphy had been sidelined by a right hip injury. He has two goals and three assists in 13 games, last playing in a 2-1 victory at Dallas on Feb. 7.

The Blackhawks also said forward Dylan Strome was in the concussion protocol. Strome was ruled out for practice Monday.

Defenseman Lucas Carlsson was placed on IR with a strained groin. The move was made retroactive to Friday, and Carlsson is expected to miss 10 to 14 days.

SABRES: Buffalo defenseman Jake McCabe will miss the rest of the season after he injured his right knee during Saturday’s 3-2 victory at New Jersey.

The 27-year-old McCabe was diagnosed Monday with ligament and meniscus damage, and the team said he will need six to eight months to recover. McCabe got hurt trying to hit Devils captain Nico Hischier along the boards in the third period.

McCabe, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft, has one goal and two assists in 13 games this season. He has 18 goals and 59 assists in 353 career games with Buffalo. He can become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

MONDAY’S GAMES

PANTHERS 3, STARS 1: Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle scored, Chris Driedger made 24 saves and host Florida beat the slumping, rusty Dallas Stars 3-1 on Monday night.

Blake Comeau scored for Dallas, and Anton Khudobin stopped 49 of 51 shots. The Stars lost their sixth in a row and eighth of nine overall while playing their first game since Feb. 13 due to the weather conditions in Dallas. The Stars’ season was twice interrupted – first by a coronavirus outbreak in training camp and then by last week’s winter storm in Texas.

Aleksander Barkov scored an empty-net goal to seal the Panthers’ sixth win in eight games.

ISLANDERS 3, SABRES 2: Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored a tiebreaking power-play goal in the third period and Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves, leading the New York Islanders over last-place Buffalo.

Pageau got his seventh goal at 15:08 when he banged in a rebound on the backhand after Oliver Wahlstrom’s initial shot with stopped by Buffalo goaltender Linus Ullmark. The Islanders beat the Sabres for the third straight time this season after two victories in Buffalo last week. The Islanders also moved to 5-0-1 at Nassau Coliseum.

FLAMES 3, MAPLE LEAFS 0: David Rittich made 34 saves for his first shutout of the season and fourth of his career as the Calgary Flames beat the NHL-leading Maple Leafs in Toronto.

Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan each had a goal and an assist, and Sam Bennett added a goal for Calgary.

LIGHTNING 4, HURRICANES 2: Ondrej Palat snapped a tie 8:04 into the third period, and Tampa Bay won in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Palat, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who were shut out in each of their first two matchups with the Hurricanes this season.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.