Blackhawks

All the feels: Patrick Kane reflects on chemistry with Artemi Panarin

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USA TODAY

All the feels: Patrick Kane reflects on chemistry with Artemi Panarin

Patrick Kane watched on Friday night. Of course he did. It was Artemi Panarin’s Columbus Blue Jackets regular-season debut and Kane had to see what his former former linemate did.

Not surprisingly, it was a pretty good night for the Russian left wing.

“He looks like he normally does, smooth with the puck, very smooth carrying it up the ice,” Kane said. “Nothing new for him.”

There’s no doubt Kane still misses Panarin, with whom he had an undeniable chemistry from the start. They clicked as well off the ice, too, getting through the language barrier with a little help from Google translate. After being part of different combinations for a number of years Kane had line stability for two consecutive seasons. So yeah, he’s a little sentimental about that whole stable setup with him, Panarin and Artem Anisimov.

“It’s kind of, I guess, fun to look back. Maybe even a little sad to look back at the chemistry we had. But obviously time’s moved on now and you gotta adjust to certain players and make it with new linemates,” Kane said. “But for first game our team was pretty good.”

Whether or not Kane finds the same longstanding chemistry with Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman remains to be seen but, entering Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets, it’s off to a tremendous start. Kane benefitted from Schmaltz’s speed the way he used to Panarin’s creativity, the two clicking after working together for part of the summer and most of the preseason. And with Hartman providing the net-front presence Anisimov did the past two seasons, the production was there.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with Kane waxing sentimental on Panarin. It was a hell of a line to watch the past two seasons. Considering the Blue Jackets played on Friday, Kane probably won’t see Panarin until warmups on Saturday night. Maybe there’ll be some chatter, perhaps some chirping. Or maybe it’ll be simpler — “maybe even just looking at him or something like that.”

Kane, Schmaltz and Hartman had a good first game and there’s a chance the three could have a long, prosperous season together. Kane appreciated having two seasons’ worth of that with Panarin.

“He’s a really good kid, fun to get along with. We had plenty of battles on the bench where we were mad at each other but I think that’s a sign of a healthy relationship,” Kane said. “He was fun to have around.”

Which teammate would Jonathan Toews most and least want to quarantine with?

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USA Today

Which teammate would Jonathan Toews most and least want to quarantine with?

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews spoke with the media on Tuesday for the first time since the NHL was paused on march 12.

Toews, along with defensemen Roman Josi (Nashville Predators) and Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis Blues) represented the Central Division on a video conference call held by the NHL.

The trio answered a variety of questions, including which teammates you'd most and least want to be quarantined with.

"I guess I'll start with the most. I'd probably say Corey Crawford," Toews answered. "He's just kind of an easy going guy. Whatever you want to do, he's down for whatever."

And for who he'd least like to be quarantined with? You could probably guess.

"And I'd say least, since I roomed with him for so long, I'd have to say Kaner (Patrick Kane). There's some ups and downs through that relationship there."

The three players were also asked what they missed the least about playing one another. Pietrangelo and Josi had interesting responses on Toews.

"Jonny's just a pain in the a** to play against. Oops, pardon my language," Pietrangelo responded. "I battled a lot with these two guys (Toews and Josi). More so Jonny because he's a forward, but we've had a lot of battles. 

"But, you know what, God, I’d welcome those battles. I think right now we miss those battles. I don’t know about you guys, but we could use a few of those battles."

"Like [Pietrangelo] said, I obviously see a lot more of Jonny, as a forward, but I mean just chasing him around in our zone, for I don't know how long, and can't take the puck away from him, trying to cross-check him," Josi answered. "Just him around the net it's not fun as a defenseman, you can't really get the puck off him. We had some really good battles against Chicago, some really good playoff series. We all miss it."

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Jonathan Toews on self-isolation, state of Blackhawks and message to fans

Jonathan Toews on self-isolation, state of Blackhawks and message to fans

The NHL put its season on pause 20 days ago due to the COVID-19 outbreak, following the NBA's lead after a player tested positive for the virus. Since then, the world has shut down and it came at a time where hockey players were gearing up for the stretch run and playoff push.

To help give fans a glimpse of how the athletes are handling the quarantine, the NHL over the last few days made the captains of all 31 teams available via video conference call in a group-type setting sorted by division. On Tuesday, it was the Central Division's turn that featured Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators, Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks in the first group.

Toews said he has remained in Chicago, where he's self-isolating in his new home with his girlfriend and their little Yorkie. He joked that he didn't have much motivation to do anything the first three to five days of the quarantine period, but since then has stayed active by riding a stationary bike and preparing as if hockey could return at any point, even though that remains unclear.

"I can't complain, still finding stuff to do," said Toews, who has spent the past two nights watching Season 3 of Ozark. "Moved into a new place during the season this year and I think you guys can all agree, during the year you kind of put a lot on the backburner with how busy the schedule was and all that, so just catching up, calling some friends and little things that I don't have time to do when we're in season."

Toews was also asked about the state of the franchise and his thoughts on Chairman Rocky Wirtz confirming that the Blackhawks' leadership group of President & CEO John McDonough, GM Stan Bowman and head coach Jeremy Colliton will return for the 2020-21 season.

"Regardless of what's going on in the organization, I think your job as a captain and as a player and for myself and the other guys that have been in the room for a while, it's just to focus on getting the most out of ourselves but [also] getting the most out of our group," Toews said. "We've been through quite a few serious injuries with key players, guys that have experience in the playoffs but that brought that character and that leadership in the room as well, so I think that definitely hurt us.

"But on the other hand, we've got some young players who are learning and getting better really quickly, and I think we showed a lot of signs this year, even if we weren't sitting in a playoff spot right now, that we're right on the edge. ... It's just that experience of playing against the top teams and getting back to that level that we know we can to be a playoff contender."

While it's certainly been challenging for the players to put hockey on hold, all three captains had powerful messages to their fanbases and NHL fans in general. And Toews led the way by going first.

"First of all, we love our fans," Toews said. "We miss them, we miss seeing them at the United Center. Obviously this is a crazy time and a tough time for everybody, but the biggest thing we can learn is, no matter what your background or what your political views are, I think we all are kind of coming together around this and that's the biggest thing. ... That's the biggest message right now, is coming together with your family and friends and your community and wait this thing out. We gotta do what we gotta do to get through it."

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.