Artemi Panarin ‘kidding’ about Rangers exit if NHL cuts pay over coronavirus

Rangers fans need not fear.

Artemi Panarin isn’t planning to bolt the team and sit out next season if the NHL’s finances take a severe beating as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, despite a report circulating on a Russian website, in which the winger is quoted saying as such on Friday.

“Of course I was kidding,” Panarin said in a text to a Rangers executive that was shared with The Post. “I was laughing.”

The Russian outlet, Sports.ru, had picked up an Instagram conversation between Panarin and Aleksandr Kerzhakov, the retired top scorer of the Russian national soccer team, who is currently the head coach of his country’s Under-18 squad.

Kerzhakov had said pro soccer players would probably face a salary cut of
40-to-60 percent. Panarin responded that if that were the case in the NHL, he would probably skip the season. That was the crux of the translation.

But translation does not detect nuance and neither does social media, though there is an indication Panarin laughed when it was suggested he could return to the KHL.

The NHL is contemplating different scenarios for a summer return in centralized locations with games that would be played without spectators.

Panarin, who is spending the COVID-19 induced hiatus at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., stands to lose up to 35 percent of his $14 million 2019-20 pay to escrow if the season does not resume.

There may also be a significant hit next season — when Panarin will be wearing No. 10 for the Rangers.

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