Artem Anisimov is proving that the Hawks were right in parting with Brandon Saad this summer, getting Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin a very good center. Not only he is having a very good production, but he is also contributing a lot in one of the league’s top lines. In this translated interview, originally appearing on the popular Russian website sport-express.ru, Chicago Blackhawks forward Artem Anisimov talked about his move to Chicago, chemistry with Kane and Panarin, and Viktor Tikhonov.
* For the original sport-express.ru article by Igor Rabiner, click here.
– Artem, can you say that in Chicago you feel better than in Columbus? And are you happy about this change in your life?
– Of course, I’m very happy. Both by those changes and the fact that I’m doing that well in my new team. I’m playing with two awesome wingers and everything is doing great.
– Do you remember your first reaction when you were traded for Brandon Saad?
– I was at home, in Yaroslavl, and on night my agent calls me and said: they’re doing a trade. “Where?” – I ask. To Chicago. I couldn’t believe it. Then I got a call from the Blue Jackets GM telling me that the trade was completed. He told me “thank you for your work, we are ok with you, but we had this deal.” Then I got a call from the Blackhawks GM too: “I’m very glad that you’re a part of our team.” And thus I couldn’t get back to bed. I didn’t sleep anymore that night, I was just thinking about these things, thoughts were running inside my mind. What will happen now? How should I organize my move?
– Did you realize that you would play on the same line with the main star of the team, Patrick Kane?
– Frankly speaking, I didn’t think about it. The trade happened during my vacations, and I wasn’t thinking about hockey. I started thinking about it when it was about training-camp time, and they put me in the same line as Kane right away. Then [Artemi] Panarin joined us and a very good line was born.
– That means that Panarin didn’t play with you since the very start?
– He missed a part of the camp due to a small injury. Once he was ready, he was then iced with us and we started playing well right away.
– How do you explain the great chemistry Panarin developed with Kane?
– Well, you don’t count myself?
– Yes, of course I do. An offensive line is made up of three players, not only two. What kind of role did the coaches assign you?
– We simply get to the ice and play. If we see someone open, we’ll give him the puck and try to give space one another. I try to go to the net, create space for them, so that they can play the puck more. Generally speaking, we play hockey and enjoy it!
– Did you never think that the Hawks got you also because of Panarin?
– Frankly speaking, I don’t know. I think it would be better to ask the management. They haven’t told me anything about it.
– What can you tell about your head coach Joel Quenneville?
– You know, not every coach is able to be the second most winning coach in the NHL history after Scotty Bowman. Quenneville is one of those coaches. I can tell only good things about him. He’s a special coach.
– Chicago played many years without any Russian in their roster, and now they got three in only one summer. How can you explain this “Russification” of the team?
– I simply think that when they assembled this year’s team, they thought that we would fit their plans. They worked very well with Artemi, signing him as a free agent, without drafting him.
– Panarin never played in the NHL, yet he didn’t need much time to adapt to the different North American game.
– He’s a very technical sound player. He does everything in an extremely fast way. And he learns very fast as well. It’s easier for players like him to adapt if they play with similar players. We try to create as many scoring chances as possible, to find each other on ice.
– What was wrong with Viktor Tikhonov?
– Simply it didn’t went well. He didn’t get much ice time, he played maybe one game and then sit out for another ten. It’s good that he was claimed by the Coyotes. He plays there and I’m glad for him.
– Do you think Team Russia will keep your chemistry with Panarin playing you together at the World Cup?
– There is still a lot of time until the World Cup!