Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin signs massive contract with Rangers, surpasses Patrick Kane as highest paid NHL winger

Artemi Panarin signs massive contract with Rangers, surpasses Patrick Kane as highest paid NHL winger

The biggest fish on the market is taking his talents to The Big Apple.

After months of speculation, Artemi Panarin signed a seven-year deal with the New York Rangers when NHL free agency opened on Monday and his deal reportedly carries a cap hit of $11.642 million, surpassing Patrick Kane ($10.5 million cap hit) as the highest paid winger in the league. Panarin reportedly turned down a lucrative last-second offer by Columbus late Sunday night, and the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders were believed to be involved in the bidding war also.

The belief was always that Panarin would be a package deal with fellow countryman Sergei Bobrovsky, who share the same agent. Florida originally emerged as the favorite to land both, and the hiring of Joel Quenneville only fueled speculation that Panarin would reunite with his former coach. But the Panthers were only able to land one of them, with Bobrovsky inking a seven-year contract and Panarin heading east to play for the Rangers.

It always felt like a longshot that Panarin would consider returning to Chicago, where he spent his first two NHL seasons before being traded to Columbus in a four-player deal that centered around Brandon Saad. Financially, it just didn't make sense for the Blackhawks to bring back the Bread Man and Panarin likely turned the page on that chapter a while ago.

The Blackhawks will get their first look at Panarin in a Rangers sweater on Feb. 19 when they host New York in what could be a nationally-televised Wednesday night game. The two teams also wrap up the season against each other on April 4, which could involve some interesting playoff implications.

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How Scott Foster and David Ayres handled the spotlight differently

How Scott Foster and David Ayres handled the spotlight differently

Two years ago today, the unthinkable happened. Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant who played in a beer league and tended goal at Western Michigan University over ten years ago, was called upon by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Foster was the emergency backup goalie on March 29, 2018 when the Hawks were facing the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center. Anton Forsberg was slated to start in net for Chicago but suffered a pregame injury. 

Collin Delia made his NHL debut ahead of schedule and was having a solid outing until he was injured with 14:01 left in the third period with the Hawks up 6-2. Foster was forced to suit up and head out onto the ice past a laughing Joel Quenneville and a delightfully stunned Blackhawks bench.

To put the finishing touches on his Cinderella story, Foster stopped all seven shots he faced, including a Dustin Byfuglien slap shot. 

The emergency backup goalie drew chants from a sold-out United Center (who, somehow, collectively already knew his name), seemingly with every save.

“That’s something you’ll never forget. You understand what’s happening, and they’re going to have a lot of fun with it, so you might as well too," Foster told Blackhawks media in the dressing room after the game.

In addition to Delia's debut that night, Brent Seabrook played his 1,000th NHL game, and Dylan Sikura picked up two assists in his NHL debut.

After his night, Foster declined further interviews, wanting to go back to his normal life. Later that summer, he presented the Vezina trophy at the NHL Awards and made his first appearance at the Blackhawks Convention. Since then, he flies under the radar for the most part.

RELATED: "Blackhawks Talk" podcast: 1-on-1 with Scott Foster on 1-year anniversary 

Then, there's David Ayres, who was called upon as an EBUG a little over a month ago by the Carolina Hurricanes on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver for the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies, came into the game midway through the second period with Canes goalies Petr Mrazek and James Reimer being injured beforehand. 

The start of the game wasn't so magical for Ayres. He allowed two goals on the first two shots he faced. But he stuck with it and ended up saving eight of 10 shots over a 29-minute span across two periods, and put a shot on net in the Hurricanes' 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs, who Ayres had occasionally filled in for at practices. 

He became the oldest goalie in NHL history to win a regular season debut and the first EBUG to be credited with a win in an NHL game (Foster didn't play long enough). His stick was sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Ayres' wife, Sarah, live-tweeted his debut and, like Foster, his story was a media sensation. Unlike Foster, Ayres kept it going. 

His whirlwind media tour over the next few days included a stop in New York and a plethora of interviews, including NBC's “Today” show and a monologue bit on CBS’ "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

He signed autographs for fans at a Canes game, and Carolina sold Ayres t-shirt jerseys with the EBUG receiving royalties and a portion of the proceeds going to a kidney foundation. 

So which last line of defense handled their situation appropriately?

Why not both?

Foster lived a dream, too, but embraced who he really was and the life he really had. He still appreciates a close association with the Hawks, honoring more obligations with them and remaining an EBUG with the team.

Ayres, several years older than Foster, soaked it all in and Stretch-Armstronged his 15 minutes of fame to span several days. During that time, he also advocated for kidney transplants, being a kidney transplant survivor himself. 

Two different games. Two different goalies. Two different ways to handle the most unique situation in professional sports. And one correct outlook on how their stories unfolded before our eyes: Awesome. 

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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. 

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 3 win over Canucks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 3 win over Canucks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

After bouncing back with a 4-2 in Game 2, the Blackhawks regained home-ice advantage by routing the Canucks 5-2 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. Dustin Byfuglien's coming out party

One of the greatest coaching decisions of Joel Quenneville's illustrious career is moving Byfuglien from defense to forward in the middle of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run. In a recent sit-down interview with NBC Sports Chicago, Quenneville sheepishly admitted he can't take all the credit for that because different coaches experimented with Byfuglien at forward while he was working his way to the pros.

But it was certainly a playoff-changing moment.

After going pointless in his first eight postseason contests, Byfuglien netted a hat trick while playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and was an absolute pest as the net-front guy on the first power-play unit. He finished with six shots on goal and a game-high six hits in 15:53 of ice time.

"He is a handful in front of the net or for goalies," Quenneville said. "He brought that element, that versatility, you could use him in either situation and of course in the middle of the game, so I think he brought a unique aspect to our team."

2. Lack of discipline

In the playoffs, officials tend to swallow their whistles and let the players play. But this game was not one of them.

In the first period alone, the Blackhawks and Canucks combined for eight minor penalties; each team was penalized four times. Hooking. Tripping. Too many men. Roughing. Interference. You name it. 

The Blackhawks cleaned up their act in the final two periods, committing only one minor penalty the rest of the game. That wasn't the case for the Canucks, who racked up 36 total penalty minutes. A lack of discipline was evident for both teams, but one team took advantage and the other did not, which leads us to our final bullet point...

3. Penalty kill remains on fire

Speaking of special teams, the Blackhawks won that department and it's the primary reason they came away with a victory in Game 3. In fact, it seemed like all series long, whichever team won the special teams battle often won the game.

The Blackhawks scored two of their five goals on the power play in this game and could've been credited with a third but the penalty had just expired before Kris Versteeg scored goal an even-strength goal. But more importantly, they went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill to continue a ridiculous postseason streak.

After another perfect performance, the Blackhawks improved to 38-for-41 on the penalty kill through their first nine contests for a percentage of 92.7. The Blackhawks had also scored two shorthanded goals to that point, so their postseason goal differential shorthanded was only minus-1. Just an incredible stat.

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.