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The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

Artemi Panarin: From Russian Rookie to NHL Phenom

Courtesy of @nyrangers on Instagram

Amongst the cooly invigorating world that is the North American professional hockey league, it is a rare occurrence to watch someone as articulately precise, almost robotic, as  Artemi Panarin. Originally nicknamed the “Breadman”, not only for his copious points tally, but for the striking familiarity between his last name and the popular bakery-cafe Panera, Artemi has captivated fans and opponents alike with his dynamic ability and skillful drive, not only to make himself the best, but those around him. 

Born into a hockey family residing in Korkino Russia, Panarin’s love for the game became evident from a young age, learning to stand on skates before he could even walk. Despite dealing with an emotionally scarring separation from his parents, Artemi turned towards hockey to provide purpose and search for solace throughout his challenging childhood. Waking up before school to drive to the rink, stickhandling between his dog’s legs, or shooting pucks on the driveway, Artemi’s thoughts were constantly glued to hockey. According to his grandfather, interviewed by the Chicago Blackhawks media, Panarin often walked around his grandparents house with his skates on, implying that the more he wore them, the more they would become “apart” of him.  This childlike passion for hockey set an incredibly important precedent for the next step of his life, helping push him through the adversity he struggled with during his early years in the NHL.

Panarin’s big break came when he entered the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League), one of Russia’s most esteemed pool of players from which the NHL scouts. His speed, high hockey IQ, and agility on the ice combined with his otherworldly ability to get the puck through the goalie quickly caught the attention of NHL teams looking to stack up their offensive lines. By 2015 Artemi Panarin was signed and suited to the Chicago Blackhawks, quickly adapting his style of play to the North American game. 

Thrusted into the westernized world of the NHL, Panarin toiled in his lack of English vocabulary, struggling to communicate off the ice with his teammates. Although this presented some struggle in the locker room, Artemi’s game wasn’t affected by this scruple. Teammate and Chicago Blackhawks all-star Patrick Kane spoke on his ability to speak through hockey as his “language” in a 2015 interview with ESPN. Teaming up with Chicago’s idolized golden boy, the two quickly became an unstoppable force on the ice, terrorizing opponents with their incomparable chemistry and vigor. 

 In his rookie season alone, Artemi had tallied an impressive 77 points, earning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year from 2015-2016. But this was only the beginning. While his following years at the Blackhawks were colored with playoff wins and record breaks, his abrupt trade and rough start to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2017 began to make people question if it was really the player, or just the environment that made Artemi so remarkable. Despite the controversy, Panarin became his team’s leading scorer the following year, impacting the game on the ice as much as he could. In 2019 he signed with the Rangers, and since then has truly established himself as one of the league’s best, raking himself in at top five for both goals and assists across the league as of February 2024. Amongst the marquee spotlight of one of hockey’s most storied franchises Panarin, “seems to flourish in larger markets,” according to Bryan Grane, a partial owner of the Nashville Predators, longtime hockey coach, and fan. “With the continued focus on the globalization of the game, players like Artemi play a critical role in the expansion of the game in overseas markets.” Panarin’s brilliance on the ice helps expose new mountains for international ice hockey players to climb, alerting the league of the talent beyond North America, through so noticeably intensifying his own.    

Beyond hockey, Panarin’s impact stems off the ice as well. Known in the league for being philanthropic and charitable, Artemi uses his platform and status to give back to his communities in Russia and the States. Whether through donations, community events, or speaking out against Russia’s tyrannical leader, Artemi asserts himself as committed to making a positive impact across the world, embodying the true values of sportsmanship and compassion; the framework of a well-rounded athlete. 

As Artemi Panarin continues to dazzle fans with his skill and artistry on the ice, his everlasting legacy only continues to grow. Game by game he cements himself as one of the league’s most exciting and dynamic players, engrossing fans with his pure love for the game. Whether sniping wristers from below the circle or setting up his teammates with the perfect apple, Panarin is a force to be reckoned with, a true superstar who only continues to rise in the hockey world, and a name people will never forget.

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