There are more than a handful of unresolved questions relating to the Artemi Panarin affair. The Post will attempt to answer at least some of them.
Q: Were there any developments out of Russia on Tuesday?
A: Other than Andrei Nazarov making the rounds with the media while repeating the allegations he first made Sunday, albeit while offering confused timelines, that would be a no. (“He is everywhere, saying, ‘This fact, this fact, that fact,’ ” a source from Russia told The Post). Not a single corroborating witness has come forward to support the former KHL coach’s wholly unsupported claim that Panarin, at age 20, beat up an 18-year-old woman in a hotel bar in Riga, Latvia, following a Dec. 11, 2011, KHL game. Back on North American soil, our best knowledge is that the NHL has not opened an independent investigation of the charges and has no intention of doing so absent credible evidence that the incident took place.
Q: How long of a leave of absence will Panarin require?
A: There is no timeline attached to Panarin’s leave. A well-placed source refuted a report that No. 10 had asked for — and had been granted — two weeks. The Rangers are hopeful Panarin will return sooner rather than later but are not going to apply pressure on him. The winger is remaining at his home in Connecticut during this hiatus.
Q: Does Panarin remain on the active roster?
A: For the time being, at least, yes. It is possible, though, that the Rangers might request permission to move Panarin to non-roster status if they need the spot under the 23-player max. As per Section 16.12 of the collective bargaining agreement, “Upon approval of the Commissioner, a Player who is unavailable to play due to reasons other than injury, illness or disability [e.g., birth of a child, attending a funeral] will be designated a Non-Roster Player…”
Q: Would that have any effect on the cap?
A: No. Panarin’s $11,641,857 cap hit will remain on the ledger throughout his absence whether he is a roster or non-roster player.
Q: Is Panarin being paid throughout this leave?
Q: Is there further information regarding Nazarov’s motivation for making these charges?
A: According to one North American informant who has had close ties to the KHL, Panarin and Nazarov did not have a good relationship when the winger played for his then-coach at Vityaz. A second source believes that Nazarov, out of work in the KHL, is looking to please well-connected political supporters of Vladimir Putin with the hopes of being rewarded with a job by those KHL executives with connections to the government by his attempted takedown of Panarin.
Q: How is the story being received in Russia?
A: “It is the talk of Russia right now,” one source reported. “The responses are basically determined by politics. If people support Putin, they believe it. If they support [opposition leader] Alexei Navalny, they believe it is payback to Panarin.”
Q: So have Nazarov’s allegations had the desired effect?
A: Panarin is off the ice for now.