Panarin's ex-KHL teammates dispute assault allegation
Jared Silber / National Hockey League / Getty

Several of Artemi Panarin's former teammates in the KHL are questioning Andrei Nazarov's allegation that the New York Rangers star committed assault over nine years ago.

"(Panarin) was a great kid, I have nothing but nice things to say about him, so when I heard that, I was like, 'Oh, that doesn't sound like him,'" Jon Mirasty told the New York Post's Mollie Walker. "And I'm pretty sure I would have heard something like that, you know, being one of the older veteran players there.

"I never heard anything like that, so I was kind of blown away. I'm obviously not saying it didn't happen, but if I were to guess, (it didn't.) And why is it coming out 10 years later?"

Mirasty also said the allegation doesn't "add up to me."

Another one of Panarin's then-teammates, Kip Brennan, echoed that sentiment.

"I didn't know or hear that something like that ever happened," Brennan said. "He was a great guy, he was hilarious in the locker room. He always worked on his English with the North American guys and was a very talented young player."

Two other former teammates, who wish to stay anonymous, concurred with Mirasty and Brennan's assessments.

They all played with Panarin on KHL club Vityaz in 2011-12. Nazarov, a former NHLer who was the team's head coach at the time, recently told a Russian tabloid that Panarin got into a physical altercation with an 18-year-old woman during a road trip in Riga, Latvia, in December 2011.

Panarin took an indefinite leave from the Rangers on Monday, and the NHL club said the star forward "vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story." The club also called Nazarov's allegation "unfounded" and expressed its full support for the player.

Nazarov has been a vocal proponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Panarin has expressed support for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was sentenced to three and a half years in prison earlier this month after being poisoned in August.

Panarin shared an Instagram post captioned "freedom for Navalny" in Russian in January, and Mirasty told Walker he's seen Panarin decry the Putin-led government.

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Panarin's ex-KHL teammates dispute assault allegation
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