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1 Dec, 2021 23:37

‘Russians want to defend their country’: Hockey ace punished after rival’s ‘Putin insult’

‘Russians want to defend their country’: Hockey ace punished after rival’s ‘Putin insult’

NHL star Artemi Panarin has claimed he "lost his mind" because of Russia-based insults including an alleged remark about Vladimir Putin – and the Canadian rival accused of making them has confirmed they were about his homeland.

The New York Rangers asked the league to investigate comments made by Brad Marchand, of the Boston Bruins, which led to the Russian star throwing a glove at his opponent.

Marchand has been accused of making a dig involving president Putin and has admitted that his jibes did relate to Russia.

"I said that no one in Russia likes him," said Marchand, responding to continuing attention on the row during a game on Friday.

"So if that is now what is setting guys over the edge, then this is the softest league in the world and no one should be allowed to say anything.

"Because there's a lot worse things said out there than that. If that's what he's crying about, then it is what it is."

Marchand’s comments may have referenced a row surrounding Panarin in Russia after he made public his support for opposition figure Alexey Navalny earlier this year.

Panarin said the nature of Marchand's words had caused him to reacted petulantly "because I can’t control myself after that".

“It’s important to [know] that I didn’t start it," he pointed out. "I didn’t say good things about him, too, but I think when you touch [someone's] country, it’s different. Probably all Russians would want to defend their country.

“In the NHL, lots of people say bad words sometimes. [But] how do we want to be as humans?

"For kids and everybody, we have to be good examples. Because, as athletes, lots of people watch us.

"The last maybe five, ten years, trash talk is pretty popular. But we have kids [watching] who grow up and that’s really important. I think a balance is important.”

Marchand was wearing a microphone up for the ABC broadcast, according to the New York Post, which said that the audio would not have been stored if it was not aired.

The outlet also pointed out that a bargain between the NHL and players prevents reviews of audio content for any reason related to potential discipline.

Panarin felt Marchand should also have been fined the maximum amount of $5,000 but was able to crack a joke in light of his sizeable salary.

“I lost 5K but, thanks to the old general manager for $11.6 [million], I’m good,” he said.