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Panarin Says He Was “Kidding” When He Threatened to Skip Next Season

Artemi Panarin has responded to the report that he might skip next season if asked to take a salary cut, saying he was only “kidding.”

We reported yesterday that New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin said he might simply “skip the season” if the NHL asked players to take salary cuts amid speculation that the cap will decrease and the league may lose millions while the game is paused due to the coronavirus. Panarin has responded to the report to say he was only “kidding.”

According to the translation of by Russian outlet Sports.ru, who had picked up an Instagram conversation between Panarin and Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Panarin said: “Ahh. I think we will have less. If 40 to 60 percent, then why am I doing this at all? Then I will probably skip the next year.” Panarin came out today and tried to clarify the report saying: “Of course I was kidding,” Panarin said in a text to a Rangers executive as per the New York Post. “I was laughing.”

His comments, kidding or not, caught a lot of attention around the NHL and it got people thinking. What if the season doesn’t resume? What if next season is delayed? What will the NHL ask of its players who can’t possibly make what they were slated to make if they’d played a full season? How many players will take issue, retire or move on?

For the New York Rangers, it must have been difficult hearing the news that Panarin was making comments like that, especially considering how much money they invested in him as a free agent. Panarin admitted to saying what he said, but re-stated it was not to be taken seriously.

Panarin has one of the NHL’s richest contracts and a front-loaded deal at that. He will earn $14 million this season and $13 million next season in up-front payments, so it would have been odd for him to not want to collect.

Related: Artemi Panarin Says He Might Head to the KHL Or Skip Next Season

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