NHL

Artemi Panarin scores shootout winner at World Championships

Artemi Panarin scores shootout winner at World Championships

Artemi Panarin made his presence felt early at the IIHF World Championships.

Playing in his first game for Russia this spring, the 25-year-old Blackhawks forward collected the shootout winner in his country's 2-1 victory over Sweden in an opening-round matchup on Friday.

Panarin has been no stranger to success at the World Championships. Panarin now has 26 points in three separate appearances for Russia. He also has helped Russia to a silver and two bronze medals in the last three years.

Panarin and Russia will be back in action against Italy on Sunday.

Bryan Bickell feeling comfortable one month after retirement

Bryan Bickell feeling comfortable one month after retirement

Physically, Bryan Bickell’s decision to retire from hockey was pretty much made for him. Months after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis Bickell battled back enough to finish the season as he started it, as part of the Carolina Hurricanes’ lineup. But it was tough getting to that point.

Mentally dealing with the retirement decision, however, was another story.

“I’m sure you guys saw the video,” said Bickell referring to the emotional interview he did after playing with the Hurricanes on April 6, two days before he announced his upcoming retirement. “That’s the day before I talked to [my wife] Amanda and thought, ‘This is it.’

“We knew it was going to come,” Bickell continued. “Playing normally is tough. Now playing with what I have, it was tough to [get to] the point where I got back and finished up the way I wanted. It was tough to decide to move on. But for me and my health, and to be around my kids, was the most important thing.”

It’s been about a month since that announcement and Bickell is in a better place. The former Blackhawks forward was in Chicago on Thursday night for the NHL Go Beyond Competition, which benefits the Inner-City Education (ICE) Program. Bickell has come to terms with the end of his hockey career and is feeling much better these days.

“I’m feeling a lot better now that I’m not playing hockey. Slowing the heart rate down, slowing the body down and slowing the mind down definitely helps me feel a lot better. From the get-go to a month afterward and then working my way back, I got better,” he said on Thursday night. “I feel comfortable now. I can do a lot of things that, that month, I couldn’t really do. To move on and enjoy and hang out with the kids and do things like this [Go Beyond Competition], I’m looking forward to it.”

Bickell kept his eye on what his former Blackhawks teammates were doing, from the end of the regular season to their abrupt first-round playoff exit.

“Nashville was underrated. I know with their season they just got in [to the playoffs], but they’re a good team. I don’t say Chicago took them lightly but they didn’t find their game,” Bickell said. “I was watching the Hawks over the course of the year, what they were doing. It just didn’t carry over. With a handful of games where they didn’t matter in the standings, I don’t know if it rubbed off going into the playoff but they didn’t find that next step.

"But you can see what Nashville’s doing to St. Louis. They could be the real deal. They could be the team coming out of the west. For the Hawks to get swept, it’s definitely a hard one to swallow. But they’ll bounce back.”

Bickell and his family are still in Raleigh, N.C., but will be heading back to Canada soon. He’ll still be doing plenty with The Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation, which helps rescue abused pit bulls. The foundation will soon launch an MS-service dog program to help those suffering from the illness.

As for what else he may do in the future, Bickell said he’ll worry about that later. Right now, he’s just enjoying some peace.

“I’m not really looking forward to anything other than relaxing, enjoying some time and doing nothing, really. Not waking up and having a schedule, not having to be at practice and work out and do all that,” Bickell said. “I’ll just take a step back and relax.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How many cooks will determine Kitchen's replacement?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How many cooks will determine Kitchen's replacement?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast,  Pat Boyle sits down with Tracey Myers and Charlie Roumeliotis to discuss the latest on the Blackhawks.

The trio discuss the trade of Scott Darling, and give their favorite Darling moment and how this puts an end to any Corey Crawford trade rumors.

They also discuss the puzzling story from Artemi Panarin in which he told a Russian reporter that he was fatigued going into the playoffs, and how the team did the Breadman a solid by allowing him to go after his performance bonus.

Lastly, the crew weighs in on what might be missing from the roster and how the decision process may go to replace Mike Kitchen.

Listen to the Hawks Talk Podcast below.