Viktor Tikhonov was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2008, but for the past several seasons, it's the KHL where he's played. Specifically, it was for SKA St. Petersburg - and for the past couple of seasons, from 2013-15, he was teammates with Artemi Panarin.
That continued when both Panarin and Tikhonov signed with the Chicago Blackhawks this past off-season. Panarin, new to North America and not knowing English, had a friend he knew alongside him as he made the transition, and Tikhonov often acted as his translator.
But while Panarin quickly established himself with the Hawks, Tikhonov did not. He played just 11 games for Chicago, only averaging 10:17 in ice time, and was held pointless for all of them. On Dec. 5, the Blackhawks placed him on waivers; on Dec. 6, the team that drafted him claimed him; and thus, Panarin and Tikhonov were separated for the first time in years.
When the Blackhawks hired a translator for Panarin, he was finally able to answer questions on how he felt about his friend's departure. As he told John Dietz of the Daily Herald:
"(I) was really upset ... was upset and shocked. (I) tried to be positive. (I) understood that it's good for him to be playing there now."
But while Panarin lost his buddy, it hasn't been all bad. With the Coyotes, he's averaging 15:09 a game, and has a goal and an assist.
Panarin is definitely happy for his friend's success, and Tikhonov has faith in Panarin to continue thriving. In the nine games since his departure, Panarin has scored two goals and five points, so he's definitely still holding up!