How did it happen that one of the most sociable and open hockey players of the Russian national team suddenly became a refusenik and did not want to come to the world championship?
Let’s remind that the championship of the planet starts on May 21 in Riga. This is a very late date, the tournament will end on June 6th. This has never happened before! The World Cup was deliberately moved to reduce the risk of coronavirus disease and so that at least some players from the NHL could arrive, where the “smooth” championship ends after May 10.
So, according to our data, at least five players from the NHL will be called up to the Russian national team for the Riga tournament. These are Mikhail Grigorenko and Vladislav Gavrikov (both from Columbus), Artem Zub and Nikita Zaitsev (both from Ottawa), as well as Alexander Barabanov (San Jose). But Panarin refused, as told by the president of the federation Vladislav Tretyak. What’s the matter?
The last time Artemy played for the Russian national team at the World Championships in 2017, when he shone in the top three with Nikita Kucherov and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The hockey player nicknamed Khlebushek then scored 17 (4 + 13) points in nine matches and was recognized as the best forward of the tournament, and the Russian team won bronze. And this is how the fate of this troika developed four years later. Kucherov won the Stanley Cup, but then got injured and flew out for the entire season. Kuznetsov has been disqualified for using cocaine and will not be able to play in international tournaments until 2023. Panarin refused to come to the Russian national team.
I wonder if this link will ever come together again? It is very difficult to imagine it now. And if Kucherov heals the injury, and the cocaine finally disappears from Kuznetsov’s body, then how to change Panarin’s mood is generally not clear.
It all started with the fact that in 2019 Artemy signed a seven-year contract with the Rangers for $ 81.5 million. Having financially secured his life, because contracts in the NHL are guaranteed, Panarin gave an extensive interview to one of the Russian media in which he sharply criticized the state authorities. Then Artemy published various controversial posts on his social networks, including calling on the people to rallies in Russia, although he himself lived in New York and was not going to any rallies.
As a result, Panarin turned from an athlete into a politician. That is, now he is being interviewed not only about points and goals, but also about the country’s political course. And even if Artemy does not answer, his name is still tied to this topic. It ended with the fact that hockey expert Andrei Nazarov, who coached the Vityaz club with Panarin in the squad exactly 10 years ago, unearthed a long-standing story that Artemy allegedly beat a Latvian woman in a karaoke bar and was almost taken to the police. Then this version was not only denied, but recognized as highly inflated. Panarin himself remained silent, but took a nine-match day off from the Rangers. By the way, because of this, his team eventually runs the risk of flying past the playoffs. There was a lot of dirt around Artemy this season.
The Ice Hockey Federation is not at all to blame here, and the Rangers forward was called to the Russian national team. But he refused. Perhaps he decided for himself that in Riga even 10 years later there may be provocations on the same basis. Or maybe he was just disappointed in his native country. Panarin has already set up a house near New York, where he will live, and theoretically, he can change his sports citizenship and play for the US national team.
It’s a shame, of course. But everyone makes their own choice.
Photo: ZUMA / TASS.