A few months have passed since the Blackhawks made a pair of blockbuster moves that transfixed the hockey world on the morning of the 2017 NHL Draft, with much of the focus in Chicago centering on the return of Brandon Saad.
Artemi Panarin hasn’t been heard from much since the deal went down, except for a tweet where he thanked the Blackhawks fans and organization. The language barrier probably didn’t help here, but that wasn’t an issue for Panarin when he sat down with Russian reporter Marat Safin for a lengthy Q&A that appeared online on Wednesday.
The two met in St. Petersburg, where Panarin has been training for the next NHL season and was awarded a trophy as Russia’s best player in the recent World Championships.
The original article is in Russian, but thanks to the efforts of SCH user hawksalways, we now have a full translation of the conversation between Panarin and the reporter. All of the portions relevant to Hawks fans are listed below:
Naturally, the first question is about the trade by Chicago, which was unexpected even for the people who aren’t regular hockey fans.
The exchange was unexpected for many people, including myself.
Players are typically sold when they do not do well. Or when a better player is available. In this case, the trade looked unusual at first glance even putting emotions aside. You are a good scorer, passer, Patrick Kane is happy, and then this!
Things are a little different in the US. The business of trades is more developed. I think I might have done the same thing as a GM. Brandon Saad, who I was traded for, is a great player. He has a 4-year contract. He was a part of the team that won the Stanley Cup. As for me, I would have kept on trying to prove myself, playing who knows how. The only unpleasant thing about the trade is that it was unexpected. I am ok now, but I was worried for a day or two. Now I think that it might turn to be even better for me. I hope that Columbus will use me in more diverse situations.
What were you doing when you heard about the trade?
I was preparing to go fishing to a place where there’s no cell network. I found out about the trade and left right away.
The North American media writes that the Chicago leaders Kane and Toews contributed to the trade – they asked for Saad’s return.
Rumors abound. I don’t give much thought to it. It’s possible that they did. But I think if I’d won two Cups in two years with Chicago, I would not have been traded. Instead, I was eliminated two times in the first round. Who should I blame in this situation but myself?
There were 20 other players on the team. They were eliminated with you.
True, but there is such a concept as the “winning team”. So, the situation is clear overall. But I feel sorry to leave my Chicago friends, and the coach there is a beautiful man. I asked my friends to pass a big “Thank you” to Joel Queneville. I have huge respect for him.
Many players in Columbus”say they want to play with you on the same line. Which means that for them and the new team in general, you are not just a good partner of Kane, but a player who can carry a game.
This is one of the positives in the trade. That’s why I see this trade as a springboard and not a pitfall. Of course, anything can happen - the time will show. My main goal right now is to prepare psychologically, so I do not try proving something or busting my butt, but just play enjoying the game. I do not need to try reaching the ceiling I aimed for in the previous two years. Although yes, if I have lower scores, they will say that I scored previously because I played with Kane. But I shouldn’t focus on this right now. Naturally, it is easier said than done, and in real life it is easy to get sucked in and worn out. But I realize that I am calm and aware of what I should work at. When you can enjoy a game, you play beautiful hockey. In general, you need to try bringing joy to the fans of the game, the way Pavel Datsyuk did it.
Who did you contact from “Chicago” after the trade?
Only my friends. I usually do not use my US cell phone in Russia.
Did Artem Anisimov write to you? He will miss you there.
Yes, he did. We shared a laugh at the whole situation.