On a zoom call earlier in the week, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane told the world that he had the most fun playing hockey with Artemi Panarin.
Panarin and Patrick Kane built special chemistry playing together, in a season where Panarin won Rookie of the Year, while Kane became league MVP. The rough part about their first season together was how Chicago was bounced in seven games against the Blues in round one of the playoffs.
After a great regular season, the pair started the 2016-17 season just as hot as before, adding talent around them. Kane and Panarin helped the Blackhawks to first place in the Western Conference, giving them a first-round matchup with the eight seeded Predators.
During the 2017 playoffs, the Blackhawks were swept in the first round against the Predators. Once the season was over, Stan Bowman made a trade that sent Panarin to the Blue Jackets for Brandon Saad. Since then, the team hasn’t recovered.
So, Kane’s comments about how much he enjoyed playing with Panarin is alarming to me. If Kane plays well with a player, why trade him away? Kane and Panarin could have easily helped Chicago back to the playoffs in 2018 if they played together.
Adding to that, they would have been a playoff team last season as well. The team was just six points shy of the wildcard spot, with there being many games that they should have won. Those games came down to a lack of scoring outside of Kane.
The boneheaded decision had a domino effect that ended up costing Joel Quenneville his job.
There will never be an answer on why Panarin was traded, but if one of the best players in NHL history wants a certain player on his team, a smart general manager does what they can. In this case, Bowman screwed up the chemistry between Kane and Panarin. A decision that could have cost Chicago a couple of Stanley Cups.