Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin thrilled to get extension completed with Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin thrilled to get extension completed with Blackhawks

NASHVILLE – Artemi Panarin was still sporting that sheepish grin on Thursday morning.

He usually has that look of confidence but even more so now, thanks to a two-year extension that will keep him with the city and team he loves.

Panarin, who agreed to a two-year deal worth $12 million on Wednesday, was thrilled to have the process complete. He said he didn’t doubt something would get done, but finishing it before the offseason arrived was a bonus.

“I’m happy with the timing. It’s nice to get it out of the way,” Panarin said via interpreter Andrew Aksyonov. “Some of the pressure is relieved but some additional pressure is now here because I need to justify the trust that’s been given to me and perform as expected or better.”

That’s true, but performance hasn’t been an issue for Panarin in the season in a half he’s been here. The production has been great; so have the performance bonuses he’s earned from that on-ice work. Panarin earned more than $2.5 million in bonuses last season and could do the same in this one, which would add to the salary-cap crunch the Blackhawks will already experience with this latest contract.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

General manager Stan Bowman will have that on his plate again. As for Panarin, it’s about continuing the work he’s done with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov.

“I’m very happy to play along with Patrick. Any hockey player would cherish the opportunity to play along with a player like that,” Panarin said. “It gives me an opportunity to play my best hockey.”

Kane said it wasn’t at the point yet where he wondered if Panarin’s deal would get done. He and his line mates have had other priorities. The chance to keep working on what they’ve done thus far, and for a few more years, is enticing.

“I think Anisimov still has four years after this year and then Bread Man for a couple more years. Hopefully we just keep building our chemistry,” Kane said. “I don’t think we’re ever on the ice thinking about contracts or how long we’re going to be here. We’re just trying to build our chemistry every day. When you know we’re going to be here for a while, it’s nice to have that comfort with each other.”

The Blackhawks will once again have some choices to make this offseason. But they got the opportunity to sign Panarin to a deal that works for both of them right now, and everything else will be worked out later.

“If I agreed that means it was very important,” Panarin said of the deal. “Chicago gave me a chance to play at a very high level. I like everything about the team and environment here, and you can’t earn all the money in the world.”

David Ayres joins Scott Foster in making emergency backup goalie history

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USA TODAY

David Ayres joins Scott Foster in making emergency backup goalie history

David Ayres is a 42-year old Zamboni driver and as of Saturday night, he is a man who has won a game as a netminder in the NHL. Ayres is the emergency backup goalie (EBUG) for the Carolina Hurricanes, who are currently locked in a tight playoff race in the Eastern Conference. On Saturday, Ayres was thrust into action when Carolina suffered injuries to both starting goalie James Reimer and backup goalie Petr Mrazek. This, of course, made us think back to Chicago's favorite EBUG, Scott Foster.

Foster, an accountant, became a household name when he donned the No. 90 EBUG jersey when he debuted for the Blackhawks in 2018. Chicago was down a goalie when starting goalie Collin Delia—who was filling in for an injured Corey Crawford—went down early. This led to Foster making his unlikely, seven-save debut. He was the first EBUG in NHL history to actually make a save and the fact that Foster was a perfect 7-for-7 in his time on the ice made the story even sweeter.

On Saturday, Ayres didn't maintain a perfect 1.000 save percentage like Foster but he did make some history of his own. Ayres was rattled at first, giving up two goals on the first two shots he faced but he did enough down the stretch to help the Hurricanes hold on to a quite important 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the win, Ayres is the first EBUG in league history to net a win, as Delia was credited with the win in Foster's debut in 2018.

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

Rockford IceHogs matchup with Milwaukee Admirals produces the rare goalie fight

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USA TODAY

Rockford IceHogs matchup with Milwaukee Admirals produces the rare goalie fight

On Saturday night the Rockford IceHogs fell 7-2 to the Milwaukee Admirals but fans still went home happy as they got see one of the rarest occurrences in the sport of hockey, the always intriguing goalie fight:

With Rockford trailing 6-2, IceHogs goalie Matt Tomkins—who gave up the six goals on 21 shots—and Admirals goalie decided to drop the gloves and engage in some good 'ol fashioned fisticuffs, the first scrap of the year for Tomkins. 

We'll leave it up to you to decide who won the fight but the Admirals certainly won the game in convincing fashion, with Milwaukee center Yakov Trenin netting a hat trick in the 7-2 win. But despite taking the tough loss, it was nice to see the IceHogs (and IndyFuel) social media having some fun with what was ultimately a very entertaining game.

The Rockford IceHogs are back in action against the Chicago Wolves on Sunday at 3 pm, with both teams locked in a tight battle for the fourth playoff spot in the Central division. 

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.