Artemi Panarin likely to make Blackhawks debut vs. Stars


Artemi Panarin likely to make Blackhawks debut vs. Stars

Artemi Panarin stood alongside friend and teammate Viktor Tikhonov, who’s doubled as Panarin’s translator during his first few weeks here.

So learning English, how’s that going?

“What?” Panarin said himself to laughs before deferring to Tikhonov to translate the rest of his answer.

“He thought it was going to be easier,” Tikhonov said.

What has been easier for the 23-year-old Russian is getting back up to speed after an upper-body injury sidelined him for nearly two weeks. Panarin, through Tikhonov, said he feels “better than he expected” when he practiced with the Blackhawks on Friday. And now there’s a chance he could play in the team’s preseason finale against the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

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Panarin was on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane on Friday, and he could be there again against the Stars. Coach Joel Quenneville, who said it was doubtful Panarin would play any preseason games at all a few days ago, sounded much more optimistic on Friday.

“These last couple of days, two days with Kaner, Arty looks like there’s something there,” Quenneville said. “He really looked good today, and it was noticeable yesterday. The kid’s got some jump to his game and I like how he snaps pucks and we’re looking forward to seeing him playing.”

Panarin’s only played a day or two with Anisimov and Kane, but he didn’t sound worried about adjusting.

“They're really talented players and really experienced,” Tikhonov translated. “He knows they'll definitely help him out and he's going to try help out the line and make everyone better.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Report: Blackhawks place Bryan Bickell on waivers]

Kane said there’s no doubt Panarin has the talent.

“As you can tell he’s very skilled,” Kane said. “He’s got a nice little quick release to him and also very good stick-handler and skater. So you can tell the skill’s all there. It’s top notch, as far as I’m concerned.”

Panarin’s foray into English hasn’t produced results as quickly as he would’ve hoped. He’s still working on that, from Skyping with a teacher to trying his best to speak English when he goes into stores. The on-ice transition has been smoother, to a degree. He’ll get a better idea of where he is there on Saturday.

“He's not too worried about the adjustment. He's more worried about getting in shape and starting the season,” Tikhonov said for Panarin. “He said everything that he's been working on this summer he's kind of had to start over. The season's long too. It's going to be tough. He knows it.”

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns


Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

Over the last 10 years, the words “ordinary” and "OK" have taken on a new meaning to Blackhawks players and fans alike. 

That’s “Coach Q” speak. 

A language where “ordinary” means awful and “just OK” means you were a non-factor. The good news is the last 10 seasons under Joel Quenneville have been anything but ordinary at the United Center. 

On Oct. 16th, 2008, the Blackhawks let go of fan-favorite Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the season and named Quenneville as head coach in his place. Quenneville coached the Colorado Avalanche the previous season, but after another disappointing exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two mutually parted ways. He had originally planned to stay away from the bench for at least a season, but the Blackhawks triumvirate of Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and then-GM Dale Tallon brought Quenneville on as a scout and then handed him the keys to the car shortly after.

“Dale’s obligation is to put together a winning team,” said McDonough at Quenneville’s introductory press conference. “At this point, Joel is the coach of that team.”

It was an emotional day at the Blackhawks offices. Savard – a Blackhawks legend on the ice and a coach the players held in high regard – was let go just as things started to turn upwards for the organization. The end of the 2007-2008 season saw the Blackhawks once again miss out on the playoffs, but the fans began to flock to the United Center once more, and the hype train around the young team built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane was gaining steam.

“Moving forward, if we want to be a championship-caliber organization, we have to make tough decisions,” said Tallon. “This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.” 

Savard was 65-66-16 in parts of three seasons as head coach of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Quenneville had compiled eight 95+ point seasons behind the bench for the Blues and Avalanche in his 11 years as a head coach.

“We felt the experience and the track record of Joel would be a balance that we needed with a young, inexperienced team,” said Tallon. "Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."

The gamble paid off for the Blackhawks in a major way. Once Quenneville took over, the team got to the sought-after next level. 

They finished the 08-09 season with 104 points, third-most in the NHL’s Western Conference, had a franchise-record setting 9-game win streak in the month of December and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The “young and inexperienced” Blackhawks took the league by storm, dropping the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs in six games before taking down the rival Canucks in the next round.

They ultimately lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals, but the bar was now set for the organization. From then on, the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. 

Quenneville currently ranks 2nd in franchise history with 449 wins, trailing only Billy Reay’s 516. 

But most importantly, Quenneville’s 76 playoff wins rank at the top in the organization’s long and storied history, and those three Stanley Cups that he’s raised over his head were anything but “ordinary.”