Artem Anisimov went to Notre Dame already adjusting to plenty of changes.
He and his family had just settled in Chicago and his wife had given birth to their second child, a boy. Then it was off to camp with the Blackhawks, where it was new teammates and new systems.
“We’re not into structure yet, but I’m going to figure out later,” Anisimov said on one of his first days at training camp. “Maybe [it’s] going to take a while, maybe take less. We’ll see. We’ll see after the first preseason games how it’s going to be.”
Anisimov’s played just one preseason game thus far but the strides he’s made in his short time here were evident. Playing with Teuvo Teravainen and Patrick Kane, Anisimov looked comfortable in the Blackhawks’ preseason opener against the Detroit Red Wings.
“I thought his camp was ordinary until today,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Anisimov on Tuesday night. “I thought he progressed well. He looked big in the middle and had the puck a lot. We’ll see how that all progresses.”
When the Blackhawks acquired Anisimov as part of the deal that sent Brandon Saad to Columbus, they saw the 6-foot-4 Russian as the answer to their long-time, second-line center question.
“He’s a special player,” said Kane. “He’s big. He has a long reach, has long strides that get him up the ice pretty quickly. He can make good passes and [has] good puck possession too. I’m looking forward to getting some more opportunities playing with him and hopefully developing some chemistry pretty quickly.”
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Anisimov has also been helping fellow countryman Artemi Panarin adjust to the United States – “we just talk a lot, learn English a little bit and just play video games.” It reminded Anisimov of the help he got from former New York Rangers teammate Brandon Dubinsky when he first arrived in the U.S. several years ago.
“He was in the driver’s seat,” Anisimov said of Dubinsky. “He helped me learn English at the table during dinner.”
Anisimov is still learning, only this time it’s a new system. He’s got the center part of this down. It’s just a matter of doing what the Blackhawks want.
“I like him in the middle. I think there's a presence there,” Quenneville said. “He's a big guy and I think he's responsible both sides of the puck; he has abilities. He doesn't have a great idea exactly how we want to play our systems yet, but I think once we're technically sound as a team, I think he's one of those guys that likes structure.”