Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: Can Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin Keep the Magic Going?

By Tim Lively
Apr 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates with Patrick Kane (88) after scoring the game-winning goal during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates with Patrick Kane (88) after scoring the game-winning goal during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates with Patrick Kane (88) after scoring the game-winning goal during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates with Patrick Kane (88) after scoring the game-winning goal during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s simply no denying that the emergence of rookie sensation Artemi Panarin, or more specifically, the electric synergy he formed with franchise fixture Patrick Kane, was without question the high point of our beloved Chicago Blackhawks’ prematurely-ended season.

Like something out of Marvel Comics, Panarin seemed to be the Russian equivalent of Kane. The two possess near identical puck handling skills and agility, not to mention penchants for finding the back of the net. However, what overshadowed these comparisons was the near immediate on-ice chemistry Kaner and the Breadman developed.

The bond Kane and Panarin formed this season was palpable, and darn near heartwarming at times. Their precognizant passing to one another purveyed a near telepathic awareness of each other’s position on the ice at any given time. Even better, Kane and Panarin’s mutually jubilant expressions when they collectively tallied a goal betrayed a newly formed friendship that continued off the ice. It was yet another great instance of teammate comradery that we love hearing about when it comes to this Blackhawks team.

The Kane and Panarin connection was a very pleasant development this season and certainly contributed to the Blackhawks’ success. The question now is, will it last?

Considering how immune Kane and Panarin were to Coach Joel Quenneville’s line blending this season, it’s all but assured they’ll be on the same line again next year whenever possible. Also, despite his age, with three Stanley Cup wins under his belt at this point, making him a veteran in all senses of the word. Thus, the main factor in keeping the Kane-Panarin chemistry alive is going to rest solely on the Breadman.

Panarin’s success this past season has caused the typically tight-lipped ‘Hawks’ GM Stan Bowman to openly express locking up the young Russian to a long-term deal is his top offseason priority. While Panarin will certainly welcome more zeroes in his paycheck, inking a big contract with the ‘Hawks may be a more double-edged sword than the Breadman realizes.

While Panarin is rapidly becoming a fan favorite, there’s a good chance that by signing a large contract with the ‘Hawks will likely mean other Blackhawks’ fan favorites, like Andrew Shaw or Tuevo Teravainen, are given the short end of the stick and forced to hang up their Indian-head sweaters. This is certainly not a new phenomenon for the Blackhawks, but as Panarin may soon learn, the players that do end up on the right side of the offseason priorities are suddenly on a much shorter leash. In other words, Coach Q’s doghouse doesn’t care how large your bank account just got (just as Bryan Bickell).

Apr 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates his goal in front of Boston Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles (26) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates his goal in front of Boston Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles (26) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Furthermore Panarin may soon learn Hawks Nation can be a cruel mistress. The young Russian has arrived in Chicago long after the days when ‘Hawks fans were beyond thankful if the Hawks merely had a legitimate shot of just making the playoffs. The Breadman is skating for a team whose fanbase now, as unrealistic as it may be, expect a Stanley Cup every year, or failing that, every other year. Not delivering the goods on a regular basis can quickly ear any ‘Hawks player Chi-Town’s ire, to which not even the mighty Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have been immune.

This is a fantastic amount of pressure for any player to endure, not to mention a 24-year-old Russian with a minimal grasp of English (which incidentally may no longer save him from press conferences going forward). The short of it is Panarin’s second year skating for the Blackhawks will be a wholly different animal. Thus, time will tell if these new demands thrust into the Breadman’s bakery will upset the proven recipe he has for success with Kaner.

Retrospectively speaking, it’s fairly obvious Patrick Kane didn’t handle his new found fame well following the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup victory, quickly garnering a party boy reputation with complete lack of discipline. However, this aspect is what makes the dynamic duo that is Kane and Panarin a screenwriter’s proverbial wet dream. In contrast to Kane, off the ice Panarin is purportedly quite mild mannered, devoutly religiously, and significantly involved in charity.

Still, while Panarin might not be facing the same demons Kane did at the onset of his career in Chicago, he’ll be facing demons nonetheless. Here’s hoping he can use Kane and a crutch when needed, and keep dazzling his ever growing fanbase in Chicago as he skates for what very well may be his new long term home.

FOR THE DAGGER!

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