ST. LOUIS — When Artemi Panarin came to the States, not many people knew what he was capable of in the NHL.
Well, one guy knew full well what Panarin could bring and tried to tell his bosses to get him on his team. Instead, he’s on the opposition.
St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko knew exactly what Panarin could do because he played alongside him in Russia years ago. For Tarasenko, Panarin will always be a great friend. Just not at the moment.
“No friends on the ice now,” Tarasenko said prior to Game 2 between the Blackhawks and Blues on Friday night.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Tarasenko told him of Panarin’s potential a few seasons ago.
“I think instead of giving him $8 million, we should have hired him as a scout,” Hitchcock said of Tarasenko. “He told us the day he got here about Panarin. He told us at least once a month about him. They're best buds, they played together, they played in the world juniors together, they played on lines together. He talked about him, and everybody looked and said he's a pretty small guy. We all look a little dumb right now.”
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks got Panarin, and it paid off well — even though it ended up costing a lot in performance bonuses. Panarin finished with 30 goals this season, the most by a Blackhawks rookie since 1995-96 (Eric Daze). Panarin earned $2.595 in bonuses thanks to his great production this season, and as general manager Stan Bowman said the other day, Panarin’s a big reason why the Blackhawks are here right now.
The Blues didn’t know Panarin could be this good. They should have. One of their own told them all along.
“I know him as a player a long time, and I think that’s how he can play every year,” Tarasenko said. “I can’t be happy for Blackhawks guy, but I’m really happy for him as a friend.”