Artemi Panarin shines in regular season debut with Blackhawks


Artemi Panarin shines in regular season debut with Blackhawks

It didn't take long for Artemi Panarin to officially introduce himself to Chicago.

With the Blackhawks trailing 1-0 towards the latter stages of the first period Wednesday night, Patrick Kane chased down a puck in the offensive zone and found a striding Panarin, who was wide open in the slot and buried home his first career NHL goal against one of the league's best goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist.

“Emotions were kind of over the top," said Panarin, through teammate and unofficial translator Viktor Tikhonov, following the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers. "I’m trying to remember the reactions of the crowd. Kind of got overwhelmed, couldn’t hear anything. I was really happy."

[MORE: Blackhawks banner raising night spoiled by Rangers]

So was Kane, who already realizes he has the luxury of playing on the same line as the skilled Panarin and gushed over the 23-year-old's performance in his regular season debut.

"He's a special player. He's electric," Kane said. "It was nice to see him get his first goal. ... I think once he gets accustomed to the NHL game, smaller ice surface, playing with some different linemates and some different players, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with."

Coach Joel Quenneville didn't go that far in assessing Panarin's play, but he didn't need to. A sold-out United Center of 22,104 saw the same thing as Kane and Quenneville.

"Panarin was fun to watch tonight," Quenneville said. "We call him the Bread Man. Looked like he had the puck all night. ... It was a good start for him."

This isn't the first time Panarin has caught people's attention.

[RELATED: Artemi Panarin locks in first goal of 2015-16 season]

In his preseason debut, he quickly showed the Blackhawks what he's capable of after recording two assists and displaying an incredible ability to stick handle after dancing around several defensemen. Marian Hossa said after that game Panarin is "so slick, and we’ll see a lot of this from him.”

That didn't take long.

Surely, there will be growing pains throughout the season but Panarin didn't show any in his debut.

For the second straight game — albeit the first in the final preseason game — Panarin continued to show great chemistry with Kane and Artem Anisimov, generating multiple scoring chances on Wednesday.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Quenneville called it the best line of the night, and nobody would disagree.

Just ask Rangers goaltender Lundqvist, who had to defend it.

"That line with Anisimov, Kane and that young guy," Lundqvist said, "I can't pronounce his name, but they looked really good."

Players may not know Panarin's name now, but they will soon.

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.”