Chicago Blackhawks’ Kane, Anisimov, Panarin – made for each other

Chicago, IL — We are early in the 2015 Chicago Blackhawks season which so far has been filled with inconsistencies, there is however one thing that has been consistent and that is the second line of Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov & Artemi Panarin.

Not only is this line responsible so far for the majority of the Hawks offensive points but they are from a fans perspective flat-out fun to watch. They are entertainment of the highest order and are must watch appointment hockey viewing.

Even if  you are not a Blackhawks fan you have to watch this line and appreciate the skill and chemistry they have.

There also seems to be emerging a special bond between Kane and Panarin. Even though they may come from worlds away they seem to be kindred spirits in several aspects. They see the game the same way on the ice and their skills are similar and compliment each other.

The stick work, passing and as Kane has said of Panarin the edge work in his skating is unreal. Their hands are so quick they are like magicians.

Even though both grew up thousands of miles away they were both told early in their playing careers they were too small to play high level competitive hockey and maybe that is another reason why they have bonded so quickly as they both universally understand without language what the other has had to go through to get where they are.

They both understand the struggle to overcome other’s incorrect perceptions based on size. Now the NHL is changing and sees the values of skill and skating but traditionally size was always thought to have been needed to make it to the NHL and I suspect the KHL was not different in this regard.

The uncanny thing as well with Showtime and the Breadman is they are like mirror images of each other. One is a lefty that plays Right Wing and the other is a righty playing Left Wing so they literally are mirror images.

What is also funny is how their personalities also seem to mirror each other. Kane has already stated that Panarin is funny and has the one liners down and Kane is no slouch himself to chirps and one liners.

They also seem to have overcome any language barriers and found ways to communicate in what I call PanKan or KanPan speak.

Not sure if that is half English half Russian or hand gestures or telepathy, whatever it is as long as they understand each other who cares.  The two just seem to be in sympatico both on and off the ice.

They also share an on ice creativity & an understanding of what it takes to be not just a great athlete but an entertainer. Both Kane and Panarin seem to understand that sports are fun and people go to see their unique special skills. I can not think of a city or a team that can better showcase & appreciate these talents.

There is no question though the glue in the middle Artem Anisimov gels this line. For years the Hawks have searched for the right second line center and even though it took losing a great young winger in Brandon Saad it appears to have been well worth it.

Anisimov brings size and grit and grind to balance the line with two masters of prestidigitation on his sides. Make no mistake without Anisimov battling along the boards or providing net front presance Kane and Panarin would not be as successful.

This line has a chance this year to accomplish special things both for the team and for each other. If they continue meshing and creating magic it’s possible that Artemi Panarin could win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

Patrick Kane could win points leader trophy Art Ross and possibly league MVP honor Hart Memorial trophy which he was on pace for consideration last year until his clavicle injury derailed that.

And for Anisimov he could be on pace for having the best year of his career and could put up the most points he has had offensively.

He was asked by Chicago media had he ever had instant chemistry with linemates like this and he said only twice before with his National team and during lock out back in Russia. See below interview taken from Blackhawks website:

Currently the three are in top four on the team in points with only Brent Seabrook in between. Patrick Kane leads followed by Artemi Panarin and in fourth on the team is Artem Anisimov.

The other thing which probably surprises some is the line is very good defensively as well. Their =/- numbers are pretty good for a supposedly offensive line. In fact Patrick Kane leads the team in +/- with 13 which is a testament to his dedication to the 200 ft. game.

The one thing though I bet all three would agree on is they all would forego individual accolades for another Stanley Cup. It would be great for Anisimov and Panarin to get their names on a Stanley Cup. For Kane more so than any other year I think he wants to prove what he is all about.

Most people do not think of Kane as a leader but he is. He told his linemates from the beginning if they wanted to stay together they had to play the right way and not let up and keep contributing. They were separated when Hossa went down and Panarin was moved to Toews line. Now they are reunited and they have not looked back.

In fact that line has such chemistry that coach Q is using the entire line on the power play in tact with Keith and Seabrook. You know your line is on fire when the entire line is being used on the power play.

Bringing in both Anisimov and Panarin again makes Stan Bowman look like a genius but for different reasons. Getting Anisimov in return for Saad in a tough situation was absolutely the best possible return for the Blackhawks probably better than anyone including Bowman could have hoped for.

Getting Panarin makes the Blackhawks scouting staffs look brilliant. How, and I do mean how, did other teams not all flock to get this kid? Bowman did have a couple of advantages. I’m sure being champions the past 3 out of 6 years didn’t hurt nor being able to have him play with players like Kane didn’t hurt either.

Panarin also has stated Barry Smith sold him with what the Hawks are about and lets face it the style of hockey the Hawks play is flat-out sexy for a skilled offensive talent which also I’m sure sold 72.

As a fan there was all kinds of chatter if Panarin could make the jump from the KHL to the NHL mostly from other fan bases.

I really didn’t think that would be a problem as I saw his skills similar to Patrick Kane and we see how successful he is so I never thought that would be a problem.  He has adjusted though quicker and better than I thought. It also helps he is with Kane and Anisimov to assist him if he has questions.

I’ve stated in previous blogs Panarin has the “IT” factor like Kane. He also seems to have something else like Kane, the desire to prove his detractors wrong which is a powerful motivator.

Panarin and Kane share that as well and can help each other. They both seem to get more fueled and determined if you tell them they can’t do something which also bonds them.

Blackhawks fans have fallen in love with both Anisimov and Panarin and are very happy they are now both in Chicago. Finally Patrick Kane has a line with line mates that can keep up with him and compliment each other. They really do all seem to be made for each other.

What this line can accomplish and how far this line can go in achievements will be fun to watch this year.

I’m greedy I want another Stanley Cup, a Calder, a Art Ross & Hart Trophy. The best thing is I have a feeling these three guys will do everything in their powers to achieve this as well.

They may not succeed in getting all of those things but then again would you bet against them?

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Chicago Blackhawks – Battle Central

Chicago, IL — We are fourteen games into the 2015-16 and the Hawks are sitting in 6th place in their division which, would mean that if the playoffs started today they would miss the playoffs. The playoffs however do not start today and there is still a lot of hockey left to be played.

Before panic sets in the Hawks record of 7-6-1 is exactly the same at this time last year and we all know how that year ended. Still it is a slight cause for concern.

Have the Hawks changed yes but maybe what has changed more is their competition in the Central Division which is the best division in the NHL. That means the Hawks do not have the luxury of taking any games off.

Last year at this time the Hawks with that record were in fourth in the division, same record now they sit at sixth and the Dallas Stars sit atop the division.

Taking a cursory look over the Stars schedule it does not really get that difficult til February which at that point this whole race maybe over.

The Stars are a much better team ironically because of the additions of former Hawks like Sharp, Oduya & Niemi. Couple that with two dynamic superstars in Jaime Benn & Tyler Seguin and it has spelled success so far.

The one thing though is the Stars have NOT played a Central Division opponent yet so lets see how they do against them.

Who is scary is the St. Louis Blues simply because they are missing so many of their players due to injury and are still finding ways to win particularly against their own divisional opponents.

Then again this is the regular season where the Blues always do well it is the playoffs where they struggle. Still the Hawks have no excuses if the Blues can win without key players you know the Hawks can.

While it is still too early to panic for the Hawks there are several things that need to be cleaned up.

One – the showing up to games late. By the time the Hawks wake up the game is over because the opposition has scored too many goals for them to overcome.

Two – with a bunch of young new players it is understandable that defensive positioning and awareness might suffer but you can’t say it is just the youth making the errors. As Nik Hjalmarsson said he made a big boo boo. It’s ok Nik you’re not alone and that unfortunately contributes to the problem.

Three – Goaltending the past couple of games needs to be better and they know that. I have no worries the Goalies will bounce back, but they need help they can not do things alone.

Four – Scoring outside of Patrick Kane has been sketchy at best. Why? Partially, youth deferring to passing to others instead of taking shots, no net front presence and not getting to the middle of the ice have all contributed. It also is harder to score when your chasing from behind.

Five – You’re the champs so everyone wants to beat you to validate their own position. Watching a Blues game and listening to their announcers, which by the way was not against the Hawks, they were talking so much about what the Hawks do it was uncanny.

If their announcers are that lock scoped on what the Hawks are doing what do you think the Blues and ever other team in the Central are doing then. They have studied them and their tendencies so much the Hawks need to be less predictable.

Six – This could be an anomaly but for whatever reason they can’t seem to find their mojo on the road. I know the team knows Chicago fans love them and maybe they miss the Hawks fans but guys you gotta figure this out because only winning home games will not get you to the playoffs.

In his post game presser Captain Jonathan Toews addressed all of the issues they know what they need to fix starting with showing up to play from the start and minding your defensive awareness particularly in your own end and neutral zone.

With Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa gone there is no question the impact on the defensive side of the game has missed them but everyone then needs to step up and we all know they can with those back to back shut outs against some very good teams. Everyone just needs to get their head in the game and think defense.

The Hawks know what they need to do which doesn’t have me too worried. Now though they do have to go execute it and they should be fine.

The Hawks do need to wake up though because they have already dropped a couple of games to divisional opponents in the Jets, Blues and Wild. That more than anything needs to change but they all know that.

The positives that are occurring is that the young players are getting invaluable playing minutes and experience. This is what is called growing pains, if the Hawks can get through this still close to their opposition in this division they will be alright.

I’ve always appreciated the skills and talents of Patrick Kane but I think this year more than any I really appreciate it. He can score goals and get points with any line mates.

Also I have seen a developement in his game as well. Yes even superstars get better. His backchecking and checking along the boards has improved. His defensive game is solid. Believe it or not he leads the team in +/- with 9 and he is not as predictable with the puck.

That last statements are what the young forwards need to do. Watch Patrick Kane you have no idea what he is going to do shoot, pass, skate, spin who knows fly, disappear he just leaves you guessing. Try to be a little less predictable it will make it harder on defenseman and goalies. Mind your defensive positioning and you must try to win board battles even if it means sacrificing offense.

Same thing could be said of Jonathan Toews you have no idea what he is going to do shoot, pass make a power rush to the net – mix it up and keep them guessing.

What has me optimistic though is some of the young players like Tanner Kero, Ryan Hartman and Marko Dano all have gotten their first points with the Hawks so that will go along way if they can continue and contribute to a more balanced attack.

The young defenseman like TVR, Gustafsson & Svedberg are all learning a very difficult position on the job. One mistake at this position and the puck could be in the back of your net. That’s ok learn, develop and in the long run the team will be all the better for it.

I have to say I have been very impressed with all of these defenseman for young guys they have a very good understanding of what they need to do which is why forwards you need to help a bit here. Mind the gaps, get sticks in lanes and take the body you’ll be fine.

I have no doubts that the Hawks just need to clean up some sloppy defensive play and things will turn around just don’t wait to long to do this. I also would love it if Patrick Kane got points leader in the league since his injury derailed him last year but I digress.

The Hawks will be forced to face their road problems soon with the circus trip upcoming because if they don’t they could be in a world of hurt but coach Quenneville will not let them slack off and will get them right defensively.

Maybe look at your selves and what your tendencies are and change it up a bit. Don’t change who you are but mix it up a little that’s all depending on opponents.

The good thing is there is tons of hockey left, next up the Oilers so the Hawks better have their skating legs with them.



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Chicago Blackhawks – The banner is raised, a new season begins & new Hawks to love

Chicago, Il — Last night the Chicago Blackhawks celebrated with the fans the banner raising at the United Center and put an exclamation point on the 2014-15 season in a magical night.

The Blackhawks are retooled and reloaded to try and accomplish something that has not been done in awhile – repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.

Their road will hard for sure but if there is any team that can do it it is the Hawks. They got off to a rough start dropping their season opener to the New York Rangers but after an emotional ceremony it is understandable.

Some take aways from the game:

The new Hawks will need to catch up with systems and just how the Hawks do things. This may take some time especially for the defenseman.

New Hawks defenseman from the Dallas Stars, Trevor Daley has noticeable offensive talent. It may take him some time to get the Hawks system on D down.

The Hawks needed to get their legs under them which hopefully won’t be the case going forward.

Again the Hawks had a missed call by officials which, hopefully this doesn’t continue all season long. If it does this could be a long season. The Hawks though have to take some blame they should not have put themselves down that early and probably won’t going forward.

The line of Panarin, Anisimov & Kane were lethal and are finding chemistry quickly, maybe even quicker than anyone had thought. It also seems this line truly enjoys playing with one another. This should make the rest of the NHL very scared.

Teuvo Teravainen for not playing a good game in his words still impacted the game. If he continues to do this and takes more control of the puck again look out.

Ryan Garbutt has impressed with his speed and positioning especially defensively that many probably ddn’t anticipate. We all knew he had the grit but there is more skill there than many knew.

Coach Q didn’t sound too upset after the game and for a guy that loves to win that’s saying a lot. I do think though this game he gave everyone a long leash but going forward I don’t see that continuing as he knows it is imperative the Hawks are in a good position come December break if they are to repeat.

What has me excited is the two young guns Teuvo Teravainen and Artemi Panarin. It will be good to see how much more Teuvo develops throughout the year. We all saw in the playoff how much he grew and for that development to continue is exciting for Blackhawks fans.

Teuvo is on the top line with Toews and Hossa for now at wing. If he stays there or gets moved to Center will be something to watch going forward. In either position Teuvo is a playmaker with a deceptive shot.

Artemi Panarin may not speak English well at this point, but it seems he and Patrick Kane speak the same hockey language and that’s all that matters. If they ever really do understand each other verbally woo buddy look out.

Even though you don’t speak Russian you can see both on and off the ice Panarin has the “IT” factor. He is personable in any language and can shine if he just continues developing and learning. He has the wow factor and came to the right team to showcase it.

Panarin is going to be thrilling for fans to watch. Chicago is spoiled with having witnessed some great talents including his linemate Patrick Kane now to have both of them together seems surreal. Welcome to Chicago kid.

Artem Anisimov is making this line gel both verbally and with getting the puck to these two magicians. He too has the opportunity to maybe get more offensive props being on a line with those two.

The core is still the core which again is great for the Hawks and maybe not so much for the other teams.

This year most definitely will be a challenge with every team gunning for them. As we all saw last year with the LA Kings if your not careful you can miss the playoff completely so the task now is just to make the playoffs and worry about everything else later.

It will be interesting as well to see what line combos come out of the Q blender throughout the year. I know some Hawks fans get upset but I find it rather interesting. You have to see what you have and how players click or don’t.

Special teams will be a work in progress both the PP and PK so that will be interesting to see as well in practices. I believe today it was reported that a PP unit of Panarin, Tikhonov, Teravainen, Anisimov and Daley were looked at and this is what makes line mixing and blending fun to see what clicks.

In any event the Blackhawks are back which makes this Hawks fan thrilled. GO HAWKS!












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Chicago Blackhawks – Inking in another leader for awhile

Seabs practice


Chicago, IL — The only thing that will be different this year with number 7 on the Chicago Blackhawks is his jersey will now don a A after being named assistant captain.

The other very good news from last night for Hawks fans was that the Blackhawks extended Brent Seabrook’s contract for another eight years starting next season.

Every Blackhawks fan should be happy to keep Seabrook in Chicago for quit a long time. Players like Seabrook are not easily found and had he have went to free agency he would have been gone or cost a lot more for sure.

Forget his physical size, to be respected and looked up to by a locker room filled with leaders is a testament to what a great leader and teammate Seabrook is and speaks volumes to his value to the organization.

As a fan, I have always admired him not only as player and the way he plays but how he comports himself off the ice.

He always is leading the charge and has demonstrated a positive attitude and team first demeanor. He always works hard and seems to know when his team needs him the most.  It is one of the reasons he has always been my favorite player. Let us not forget either, Seabrook along with Keith were in Chicago in the dark times so to see him rewarded is fitting.

The thought that Seabrook will retire a Blackhawks most likely along with Duncan Keith should keep the Hawks competitive for a very long time. Champions and Championships are still determined by defense as we saw throughout last years Stanley Cup run.

Everyone, fans, media and other teams kept asking the question can a banged up defense, granted anchored by three world-class defenseman be enough to win a Stanley Cup? Well as we all know now the answer was yes. The three world-class Dmen though are not only great hockey players with extraordinary hockey skills they are superhuman physically as we found out to wink wink.

More importantly they possess something maybe even more impressive than their hockey skills. They know how to win and what it takes to win and they never back down or away from any challenge, in fact they not only embrace it, they own it.

Brent Seabrook has really always been like this it’s just people started to take notice a couple of seasons ago in the Detroit Red Wings series when he settled down and led maybe one of the greatest leaders in the NHL. That spoke volumes as to the type of leader Seabrook is and what kind of team-mate he is and how much of a pulse he has on the Blackhawks and what they need in the locker room and on the bench. Priceless.

It was another easy decision for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks to give Seabrook and extension probably one of the easiest this organization has had to make.

You also as a fan have to love how Seabrook in speaking to the media said “I’ve got a lot of winning left to do”.  That attitude pretty much sums up him as a player and team-mate. The Blackhawks now with the blue line solidified give the Hawks a chance to win Stanley Cups every year which should thrill fans. You know he will be doing everything he can to get this team in position to win Cups within his powers.

On a personal note it is good also to see in this day and age  that the Keith/Seabrook brotherhood can continue on the ice in Chicago. The chemistry and the balance they bring to the blue line is something that only comes with time so why lose that if you don’t have to. They have remained loyal to Chicago and the Hawks so it is only fair that the favor be returned.

As Stan Bowman said if the Blackhawks didn’t have Brent Seabrook they would be looking for a player like him so why not just keep him here. Bravo Blackhawks and Stan Bowman for keeping not only a great defenseman here but a great leader which maybe actually harder to find. The league has some great defenseman but how many of them have three Stanley Cups and counting? Not many if any.

Brent Seabrook


As we have all witnessed he is clutch especially in moments that are the most crucial and that in another intangible that can not be replaced.

Congratulations to Brent Seabrook on getting the A officially on the jersey even though you were in spirit and to the extension it is well-earned and deserved. As a Blackhawks fan I am thrilled for you and to see you remain on anchoring Chicago’s defense. Have a great season!






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Chicago Blackhawks – All the players heading to camp

Chicago, IL — The Chicago Blackhawks have released their roster for training camp which, will be held this Friday at Notre Dame again and the full roster is on their website. What makes this year different is several things.

The largest question was would Patrick Kane be at camp and how would the Blackhawks handle this with an ongoing investigation surrounding Kane. I intentionally have stayed away from this subject because there is so much misinformation and speculation in the media and social media I was frankly appalled.

For professional journalists to push agendas and try and sell newspapers, radio shows ect at the expense of peoples lives, reputations and livelihoods was/is disgusting.

There were many that flocked to tell the Blackhawks what they should and shouldn’t do with Kane.

Thankfully the Blackhawks are a smart organization that does not listen to the noise from the outside and others agendas which is why they are one of the best professional sports organizations.

I’m sure there were plenty of lengthy thoughtful discussions that went into this decision and it was not arrived at lightly.

And before I get scalded, yes I am a Blackhawks fan which means I support the team, all of the team, of which Patrick Kane is still apart of.

More importantly though I am a bigger fan of truth, justice and due process. To judge someone without all the facts is simply dangerous and irresponsible.

The Blackhawks had no other choice but to let Kane attend camp as he has not been charged by the law of anything, so if and until he is which may never happen, he must be given the benefit of the doubt and the support of his organization, league and teammates.

As a fan I trust the Blackhawks are making the right decision for the organization & I must trust our legal system as far as determining if in fact anything Illegal occurred.

It will be a scary day when we start assuming a persons guilt based on accusations and speculation without knowing all of the facts first.

To those that say it will be a circus, it will be regardless if Kane is present or not. Actually your not giving the Hawks enough credit. They know how to deal with the media and to let one of your own burn because of PR ramifications what does that say about your organization? You bale on someone, one of your own, when the going gets tough?

If people thought that, you don’t watch or know the Blackhawks well enough. When have they ever backed down from challenges or hard times. Granted they have never faced anything like this before but it’s good to see they stand by their players. This just proves to me why they are an organization I can stand behind proudly.

I don’t look for the Blackhawks or any of their players to be my moral compass but I certainly don’t look to the media either or fans and neither should anyone else.

The Blackhawks are a professional hockey team and their focus is to field the best team possible and there is no question they are a better team with Patrick Kane than without him.

The trade talks are ludicrous without any charges and IF there are any they will not be able to trade him anyway so this talk is silly so please stop.

Yes I suppose they could trade him once all the dusts settles but honestly why would they? No I don’t think he is bigger than the team but honestly if he is found innocent they would be foolish to let his talents go.

For those fans that were incensed at Jonathan Toews comments really? Everyone got to voice their opinions and most do not know either Kane or the accuser so why do you get to voice your opinions but Toews can’t and he at least knows one of the parties? There was nothing wrong with what Toews said and as a captain I would expect him to say something.

You have to have some faith in people and at this point without facts and so many unknowns you have to proceed like business as usual until things change one way or the other.

The Blackhawks have scheduled a press conference tomorrow at 2pm Central time and I’m sure they will be addressing everything head on which, is the right thing to do.

Agree with their decision or not make no mistake it was their decision alone to make with the NHL & NHLPA not the medias or fans.

As far as Kane being a distraction, my media friends, only if you make him the entire story. Personally I am focusing on the new players, line combinations, player development and coaching.

The PTO’s that are there and their chances of making the team. How hard do you think it will be to repeat or stay fresh? That is what I would be asking.

The only thing I’m focusing on with Patrick Kane is how he looks with Anisimov as his center and I’m hoping Panarin on the opposite wing.

The one thing I do know is what my mother always used to say in hard or bad times “This too will pass”. In the meantime let the puck drop and here is to the best team in hockey trying to accomplish something that has not been done since the 1990s. Let’s keep the Cup.

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Chicago Blackhawks – Globalizing

Chicago, IL — We are only three weeks away from training camp so it is time to talk hockey again, specifically NHL Chicago Blackhawks hockey. Speaking personally I have never been more ready for this season to begin.

In fact it is rare that I focus on the next year when my team is in the middle of trying to win another Stanley Cup. That scenario though is exactly what happened when the Blackhawks announced back in spring, they had signed Artemi Panarin from the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg team.

I could hardly contain myself, was I reading the reports right? Was I in a Hawkey fantasy land? Was I just wishful thinking? Was this for real?

For those Blackhawks fans that follow religiously the IIHF World Juniors, Artemi Panarin is a name they should be very familiar with and we all know the skill and potential that he brings.

Yes I know it was on larger ice however, there are certain skills that translate like vision, stickhandling & scoring I. Q.

Panarin posses all of these. Sure there will be an adjustment period but, given Panarin is experienced and has played on the highest international stages you would have to think he will be able to master the NHL transition better than say a 20 year old.

Panarin’s biggest challenge will be the pace and lack of space one is given in the NHL. Give him time he’ll figure it out like another young European prospect Teuvo Teravainen.

As Hawks fans we saw with Teuvo him develop right before our eyes in the playoffs and he only got better as the playoffs went along. Panarin like Teravainen has a high hockey intelligence and will make adjustments when needed.

Panarin will also need to be mindful of the defensive zone but as a winger his responsibilities will be less than if he was a center. My understanding is Panarin will definitely be slotted as a winger not a center which, I think is best at least to begin with.

Teravainen may in fact be moved to center which, I guess we will find out come training camp. Teravainen certainly has played that position before and has at Blackhawks prospect camps in the past so it is not something he will be unfamiliar with. His two way game is overshadowed by his high end offense.

Also coming from the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg team is countryman Viktor Tikhonov a former Arizona Coyotes prospect that was drafted in 2008 28th overall. He was passed on his first two times of eligibility like Andrew Shaw and we see how that turned out.

Viktor is another winger but brings with him size. He may not crack the lineup on a regular basis we will have to see how this goes but he has a better opportunity with the Blackhawks than he did with Coyotes. He will certainly be given every opportunity to make the line-up.

Nothing against the developement and training staff in Arizona but the Blackhawks staff is the best in the business and will work with Viktor if there are any short comings and the Hawks will know how and when to utilize Tikhonov’s skills.

For those that attended this past Blackhawks convention or were able to catch it on the Hawks website or via steaming when it was live Viktor is seemingly a very thoughtful, charming young man who will have no trouble making the transition to the western life and language as he has lived in the United States before so his concentration can just be on the ice and adapting to the NHL.

Viktor probably needs to concentrate on his skating and speed to stay in the Hawks lineup. Let’s face it, the Hawks are a team built on these two skills so to have good speed, doesn’t need to be blinding, and being strong on your skates will go along way to keep you in the Hawks lineup.

Tikhonov is more of a two-way player which should serve him well as we all know coach Q loves you to be defensively responsible in your own end. On the Blackhawks he doesn’t necessarily need to be an offensive dynamo which is a huge difference from the Coyotes.

While it was a surprise that Brandon Saad will no longer be in a Blackhawks uniform it was amazing who Stan Bowman was able to get back in return.

Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano came to the Hawks in the Saad trade and if things project out as expected Bowman was able to secure a 2nd line Center in Anisimov who is younger than Brad Richards with more miles left on the tires and is a better two-way forward.

Stan Bowman thinks Anisimov is the answer at 2nd line center otherwise he would not have given him an extension for five years. Anisimov is an excellent two-way hockey player.

He has struggled at times with consistency but on the Hawks that may not be an issue given the talent surrounding him. His offensive potential may be ignited particularly if he has Panarin and hopefully Patrick Kane on either side. Woo buddy look out he may reach his offensive potential.

The hidden gem in this deal was Marko Dano who was basically the Columbus Blue Jackets Teuvo Teravainen. Dano is offensively talented with a shot that makes him a lethal scorer maybe a better scoring threat than Brandon Saad. Dano is also a very good skater.

Dano needs to work on his two-way game but let’s not forget Saad become a solid two-way player due to his linemates of Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews and it’s already been well documented Dano is set to learn and clone from Hossa his countryman.

If, and that’s a big if, Dano can crack that first line he will be in a perfect position to improve his two-way game and learn from two of the best all around hockey players in the world in 19 & 81. If he can do this night in and night out he’ll learn fast.

While most of the Hawks new forward additions are more offensively inclined and people worry about two-way play suffering lets not forget the Hawks still have some pretty solid defenseman like Keith, Seabrook & Hjalmarsson.

You remember the three that anchored that defense to a third Cup and couldn’t possibly sustain all that playing time and physical punishment.

Yeah those guys will be back. Oh that goalie no one ever respects who just keeps racking up Jennings trophys and Stanley Cup Championships, Yeah that’s right Chicago, Corey Crawford will be back as well.

Honestly the transition will be the hardest for Panarin coming from a different ice surface, culture with language obstacles and cultural differences but Panarin has stated he wants to push himself both on and off the ice.

Will this be a challenge and change for sure but, he is coming to a city that is so diverse and has something to offer for everyone to enjoy and partake in and on the ice..

He is coming to a team that has the best players in the world to watch and learn from and hopefully they can learn from Panarin & Tikhonov as well who come in bringing a fresh, new insight to the game.

My only suggestion for all the offensive players mind your two-way game and your play along the boards as wingers be strong on the puck with no turnovers and get to the oppositions front of the net/slot area and pick up garbage and you’ll be fine.

Now there are other new players to the Hawks as well from Dallas, free agent signings and NCAA prospects but this blog was just focused on the international changes in another blog I will discuss those.

The Hawks have gotten younger for sure which may serve them well if they are to make another run deep in the playoffs. We all know how hard it is to repeat as a SC champion.

It has not been done since 1997-98 of course by the Detroit Red Wings. hmmm wasn’t that team composed of a lot of European players too? I’m just saying.

All I know is it is very exciting thinking about the line combinations, skills, development and all the possibilities that we may see on the ice.

Is it October yet?

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Chicago Blackhawks – Stanley Cup Champions Overcoming it all

Chicago, IL — It took me a couple of days to process everything that happened in the 2014-15 season for the Chicago Blackhawks and quit honestly I was emotionally drained and stressed out.

I can’t even imagine what the players, coaches, staff and organization as a whole must be feeling. I can not recall a season with as many obstacles for a team to overcome both on and off the ice.

The fact that this team overcame all is a testament to every one in the organization. Make no mistake this took the entire organization to win this Stanley Cup which I guess in the modern-day salary cap era is what exactly it will take.

If you can remember all the way back to the first regular season opener against the Dallas Stars in Dallas it was an early indication of the battle this team would have to endure on the ice for the rest of the season.

The team had to come back tie the game up and eventually win in a shoot out against a very talented young divisional opponent, which is sort of how the entire season went on and even into and through the playoffs.

The Hawks are no question in the toughest division and conference in the NHL and that will not change going forward. In fact the target is even bigger on the Hawks now that it ever was.

The good thing is this team loves challenges and will probably embrace this going forward. All the teams in the west and in the central just keep getting better so the Hawks will be challenged every step of the way going forward.

The Hawks also had to face injuries, which every team does but to lose your leading scorer at the crunch part of the season and turn that into an opportunity to get on ice help in Timonen, Vermette and Desjardins was fortunate yes with the timing, but also a sign by the management that there was belief in the team.

Again they were right. This symbolic move had more weight than any of us will ever know on the team.

This brings me to the Hawks also have to battle the NHL themselves. The league does not really want repeat teams winning championships because they view it as they want to spread the wealth throughout the league which is the purpose of the cap. Bill Daly said it himself on NHLNetwork.

Again this is a battle that the Hawks will have to keep waging year in and year out. If there is a front office that can handle this does anyone doubt that the Hawks can’t manage this? If you do you have not been following Stan Bowman’s moves closely enough.

Maybe though the toughest things to overcome were the off ice obstacles. As I have written before there is something that we all share as humans but never feel comfortable with and that is loss. Specifically loss of those close to us.

This team not only had to face that once this year but twice. The only comfort is that they could look to each other for support and empathy. As a fan who myself had to experience the loss of someone dear this year, know that we as fans too can empathize and sympathize with your losses.

If all of that was not enough there were malicious rumors and here say that surrounded the team when they were all dealing with things like loss, grief and just the grind of an 82 game NHL schedule, the leeches piled on.

The Hawks handled all of this with class and a professional demeanor that I’m not sure most could have done. I’m amazed at how well they handled this so huge applauds to them for their comportment in dealing with vicious idiots with dignity.

Through all of this and despite all of this, the Blackhawks still found their way into the playoffs and then were faced with four grueling rounds of playoff hockey against four different but yet quality opponents culminating with all the head games that the Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to want to heap on the Hawks who by the way didn’t really even blink at.

In the end the Hawks were just the better team in every sense no disrespect to Tampa but it is true. Your time will come.

The Hawks had to face the physical demands against the Ducks who were hell-bent on decapitating them and overcame that, they faced a very good hockey team in the Nashville Predators who did seem maybe more concerned with keeping the red out in the stands than worrying about the highly talented “red machine” (thank you Duncan Keith for that) on the ice and overcame that.

They faced a very talented team in the Wild with the hottest goalie coming into the playoffs and answered that resoundingly with a series sweep. I guess you could say the Blackhawks were not ready to relinquish any of their championship mettle to any team.

The Blackhawks have an uncanny knack, instead of getting tired as series go on they get stronger and are closers. I truly believe if they did not get down in 2014 3-1 in games to the LA Kings they would have won that series and the Cup. Cie le vie it just fueled them for this year so it was just meant to be.

Coach Quenneville at the rally said that “team” best encapsulated this years Cup win and that is most definitely true. It took all four lines rolling, two goaltenders that were magnificent when called on and that defense what can you say warriors.

It was only fitting Duncan Keith won the Conn Smyth trophy. He is just symbolic of the entire defensive core and their committment to battle through adversity.

Chicago appreciate this as it is rare for this to keep occurring and every time there are new experiences.

How great was it to see guys get their first championships like Kimmo Timonen, Antoine Vermette or even Brad Richards get another ring after being tossed by the New York Rangers. Richards just fit Chicago better, I mean not every team can have Patrick Kane.

It was great to see new guys get their taste of potentially what more could be coming like Teuvo Teravainen and Trevor Van Riemsdyk who both had to overcome their own trials in the playoff but will be better off for it in the long run.

Championships are fun, you get parades, rallies, chasing the Cup around, great hockey games but maybe what makes championships great was summed up by Captain seriously Everything.

Jonathan Toews said and I’m paraphrasing that this is so much bigger than sports and he is right. It brings people together hockey fans, non-hockey fans it doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter your age, gender or race or ethnicity or religion or politics.

We all came together to support and rally our team on and for a brief millisecond we were bound by something in common a shared desire or feelings we could relate to and cheer on a group of extraordinary individuals who by the way are great guys, leaders and pretty good hockey players too.

Enjoy your summer boys you deserve it. Thank you for working so hard and bringing so many joy and pride to a city that has really fallen in love with this team. Thanks for some really great hockey.

As Captain Seriously Everything says next year “let’s go for four”. GO HAWKS!

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