The agent for Nikita Zaitsev issued a statement on Friday addressing a social media post by his client's ex-wife that accuses the Ottawa Senators defenceman of taking their children.
"The story that is being circulated online by the ex-wife of my client Nikita Zaitsev is not accurate," said Dan Milstein on his Twitter account on Friday.
"Nikita's children are safe and with his parents, at his parents' home in Moscow, where they normally reside. Nikita's ex-wife knows where the children are and that they are safe.
"Law enforcement considers this to be a private matter. We ask that you please respect the family's privacy."
A posting uploaded on Margo Gotovtseva's Instagram account on Friday morning accuses Zaitsev of taking their children. It is accompanied by a video of two men carrying two children and apparently fleeing from the camera, with another man holding a woman back.
Zaitsev was not available for interviews at the team's practice in Philadelphia on Friday ahead of Saturday's game against the Flyers.
“The Ottawa Senators will not comment on the private, family matters of our players," the team said in a statement. "In this specific case, the only thing we can say now is that the player has spoken to Senators management and has advised us the children are safe in Russia. We have been in contact with the NHL regarding this matter and will work to ensure all proper measures are taken.”
The Senators announced on Nov. 22 that Zaitsev went home to Russia for personal reasons. He missed the team's home game against the New York Rangers that night and arrived in Columbus on Sunday in time for the team's Monday night game against the Blue Jackets.
Zaitsev, 28, was acquired by the Senators in July from the Toronto Maple Leafs and has seven assists in 28 games this season.
He is in the third season of a seven-year contract signed with the Maple Leafs in 2017, with a $4.5 million cap hit.