The Week That Was: Panarin vs. Putin

John Crouch/Icon Sportswire

      The New York Rangers are hoping the return of fans to Madison Square Garden will help turn around what has been a rough season. While they treated their fans to a blowout win against the Boston Bruins Friday night they did so without their star forward Artemi Panarin. Earlier in the week Panarin requested, and was granted a temporary leave of absence, from the Rangers.

A story emanating from Russia that Panarin had attacked a young woman in Latvia following a game a decade ago. It’s likely an unfounded allegation because the only person backing this story was Andrei Nazarov, a former coach of Panarin’s in the Kontinental Hockey League. Nazarov is an ally of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Panarin as been one of the Russian professional athletes to both be critical of Putin and be an unabashed supporter of his political nemesis, Alexei Navalny.

It is highly doubtful Artemi Panarin will be returning to Russia anytime soon unless he wants to play for the Siberian Express. He does however have to worry about both his family and his in-laws who are still living in the former USSR.

You can’t blame anyone for thinking CBS Sports was trying to create a sequel to the terrific 2007 Coen Brothers movie, “No Country For Old Men,” and calling it “No Country For Old NFL Quarterbacks.”

In 2020 CBS parted ways with Forest Hills High School alum Ian Eagle’s longtime partner, former San Diego Chargers QB, Dan Fouts. Last week the Tiffany Network decided to let go of Rich Gannon, who was an NFL signal caller for 17 seasons. Fouts and Gannon are fine analysts who possess dry wit and are able to convey their deep knowledge to viewers.

This Monday represents the 50th anniversary of the biggest boxing match of my lifetime when Muhammad Ali met Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden for the heavyweight championship of the world.

Both men were undefeated at the time but that wasn’t the main storyline. Ali had been stripped of his championship belt in 1967 after he refused to be inducted into the US Army by claiming to be a conscientious objector. In 1970 he Supreme Court ruled Ali was within his rights and he was allowed to resume his boxing career. In the meantime Philadelphia’s Joe Frazier had become the champ which set the stage for March 8, 1971.

Frank Sinatra was credentialed as a photographer for LIFE Magazine while Burt Lancaster served as a color commentator for the fight which was shown at movie theaters. Cable television only existed in the sticks at the time.

The fight lived up to the hype as it went the 15-round distance with Frazier being declared the winner by unanimous decision. They would meet twice more with Ali winning both bouts including 1975’s “Thrilla in Manila”.

Boxing hasn’t been the same since.

Mets president Sandy Alderson got off a good quip when asked if he would attend free agent Yoenis Cespedes’s workout for teams at his ranch in Fort Pierce, Florida. “We’ll rent horses and ride out there,” he replied indicating his lack of interest in the mercurial former Mets outfielder.

Sid Rosenberg, who hosts a morning talk show on WABC (770 AM) has returned to his sports broadcasting roots with “Sid’s Sports Sunday” which airs Sundays from noon to 2 PM. Rosenberg, who grew up in Brooklyn, was a longtime fixture at WFAN.

Like most people, I admire the talents of Kenan Thompson who is the longest tenured member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”  As a reward for his years of service, NBC gave him a  Tuesday night sitcom, “Kenan,” in which he stars as a widowed morning TV host in his native Atlanta.

During a Zoom press conference hosted by NBC to promote show, Thompson admitted “Kenan” was on its third production team. He did not seem overly ebullient about the show and stressed he wasn’t leaving “Saturday Night Live.”

Kenan Thompson is both an honest and perceptive guy. “Kenan” is formulaic and he doesn’t appear comfortable having to carry a show which in many ways comes off as an imitator of CBS’s current sitcom, “The Unicorn.”

He deserves better material.

About the Author

Get connected with us on Social Media