Artemi Panarin still hoping to play for Russia in Olympics



Artemi Panarin expressed earlier this season that he wants to play for Russia in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, but there was speculation he wouldn’t be invited given his public opposition of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

In an interview with a Russian media outlet, R-Sport, published Monday, Panarin revealed he has in fact met with team officials to discuss his participation at the Olympic Games in February.

“In October, I met with Alexei Zhamnov, Ilya Kovalchuk and Sergei Gonchar,” Panarin told R-Sport. “They told me that we should not play for ourselves, but for our country. That everyone, regardless of their position on the team, should do their job one hundred percent. There shouldn’t be a situation where a player comes in thinking about individual statistics — goals and assists.”

After Panarin spoke out against Putin, which included declaring his support for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a former KHL coach of his levied unfounded assault allegations against him to a Russian tabloid last season. Panarin was forced to take a leave of absence from the Rangers and has since decided not to speak out politically anymore.

The Beijing Olympics, which is set to take place from Feb. 4-20, would be Panarin’s first. After the NHL and International Ice Hockey Federation solidified an agreement in September, NHL players are set to return to the Olympics for the first time since 2014. The league designed the schedule to have a two-week break to accommodate the players who are traveling to Beijing.  

Artemi Panarin
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“Yes, winning the Olympics is every hockey player’s dream, but I try to think less about Beijing,” Panarin said. “I don’t want to burn out. I play better when I approach tournaments and matches with a cool head. I play for my country, that’s why I take on a completely different responsibility. The main thing is to stay injury-free.”

Greg McKegg entered COVID-19 protocol on Monday and did not skate with the team.

Considering the Rangers just faced the Islanders, who have been shut down by the NHL after having eight players test positive for the coronavirus, any positive test among the team is worrisome. McKegg, however, was scratched during the Nov. 24 matchup on Long Island.

“I hope not,” head coach Gerard Gallant said when asked if it could be a problem. “I don’t have any worries today, I mean, everybody else tested negative.”

Chris Kreider nearly pulled off the famous Michigan goal – or lacrosse goal – in the Rangers’ 5-2 win over the Bruins in the NHL’s Thanksgiving Showdown on Friday. After a referee called it a goal, the play went under review and it was overturned.

“It’s something I mess around with occasionally… I had a little separation,” he said after practice Monday. “The puck wasn’t totally flat, so I figured I’d try.

“It’s a silly skill, just kind of happened organically. Probably won’t happen again.”


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