Panik paying back trust

Breakthrough season for Slovak forward


Richard Panik played for the Slovak national team at the 2014 Olympics and in three World Championships. Photo: Jeff Vinnick / HHOF-IIHF Images

Richard Panik scored his 12th goal in early February to break his career high. Since then he has been on fire with 10 goals and 9 assists in 24 games since February. sat down with Slovak right wing and spoke about his big opportunity he got with the Chicago Blackhawks, the top-ranked team in the NHL’s Western Conference.

How satisfied have you been with your season so far?

It's good. I think I reduced my inconsistent performances and as a team, we are doing well. We have overtaken the Minnesota Wild as Western Conference leader.

You are in your strongest season. Are you satisfied that you managed to pay back the trust that Chicago put into you when they acquired you from waivers last season?

Yes, I was glad to reach that goal. I should have done it a lot of earlier but I was hitting posts so many times. I’m really thankful to Chicago for giving me the opportunity. I try to pay it back with my points and performance on the ice.

You had a great start of the season when you got a hat trick in front of the home crowd. How does it feel when 21,000 fans are giving you standing ovations?

Obviously it is great. It was an amazing moment for me. I couldn't believe what was happening, but like I said, I was very pleased for scoring it in United Center.

Coach Joel Quenneville is one the most respected persons in this position in the NHL. He is changing the line-up even during the games. Is there any system to that?

I think he tries to find the chemistry in the lines. Sometimes it isn't ideal for the players, because we need to get used to each other, but it's a part of a process to play better as a team.

It´s been more than a year since you came to one of the best teams in the league. How do you like living in Chicago?

I got used to this city relatively quick. Marian Hossa and Michal Rozsival really helped me in the beginning. I met a lot of people from the Czech Republic and Slovakia so it was quite quick for me to adapt in this city.

In January there were some rumours about Tomas Tatar joining the Chicago Blackhawks organization. How did you see this?

In NHL plenty of rumours like this go around. I have been playing here for many years and I just know that they didn't make him any kind of offer, it's out of the question. Obviously he would be a real help for us, no doubt about that.

This year you look a lot more confident on the ice. Is it due to your wife or your cooperation with your mental coach Peter Bielik?

A mix of it I think. Of course my wife is taking good care of me. I’m not a young boy anymore. On the other side the mental preparation is very helpful. I think the start of the cooperation with Peter was the turning point in my career.

This year the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship is hosted by two cities, Cologne and Paris. Are you ready to represent your country if the national coach will nominate you?

At the moment I’m concentrating on the next games and the playoffs. We will see what the future brings. Moreover my contract expires at the end of this season. So if I’m 100 per cent fit I will be happy to come to the tournament.





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