Although there is not a great deal happening in the National Hockey League these days, due entirely to the fact that the NHL has been forced to suspend the 2019 - 2020 regular season as a result of the current global crisis, there was a huge report this week regarding one of the NHL's top stars in the former of New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin.
For those of you who missed it rumors began to circulate on Russian websites that spun a story suggesting that the Rangers star forward could potentially skip the 2020 - 2021 NHL season if the league were to cut the salaries of players as a result of this ongoing situation. The rumors began to circulate after Panarin himself engaged in a conversation on social media with Aleksandr Kerzhakov, a star athlete in his own sport of soccer and a long time member of the Russian national team. It was in that exchange that Kerzhakov revealed to Panarin that professional athletes in his sport would be facing a salary cut of somewhere in the region of 40 to 60 percent and that prompted the now controversial response from Panarin.
According to the translation Panarin responded to Kerzhakov by stating that if that were to become the case in the National Hockey League as well he would likely skip next season entirely, a rather bold statement on his part. This of course sent shockwaves through the NHL rumor mill and no doubt had more than a few executives in the New York Rangers organization feeling extremely uncomfortable given the massive contract they had just signed him to, but it may have been all for nothing. Panarin has now since responded to the reports regarding the translation and, although he did not deny the accuracy of the translations, he made it clear that his words were meant entirely in jest.
“Of course I was kidding,” Panarin said in a text to a Rangers executive as per the New York Post. “I was laughing.”
Panarin not only currently has one of the richest contracts in the NHL to his name, but it is a front loaded deal on top of that. Panarin will earn $14 million this season and $13 million next season in actual cold hard cash, so it seems like a near impossibility to imagine a world in which he would walk away from that kind of money.