Artemi Panarin MVP pace reminiscent of Mark Messier
After Artemi Panarin’s artistry, setting up the thrilling game winning overtime goal by Mika Zibanejad against the Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum last Tuesday, I found myself at a complete loss for words. Which, after all, is not beneficial for having to pen articles for the number one independent Rangers site on the internet. I mean, what more can you say that hasn’t already been said? How many more times can one check the thesaurus for additional superlatives to describe the the pure genius of number 10’s play?
Panarin’s sheer brilliance and utter excellence have helped to bring his Ranger team from bottom feeder status in the Eastern Conference to the precipice of playoff contention. The “Bread Man’s” offensive prowess and defensive hustle and extreme hockey IQ have made the Russian native a strong candidate for the Hart Trophy which goes to the Most Valuable Player of the National Hockey League. Not since Jaromir Jagr’s record setting season of 2005-06 has Rangerstown had the privilege of witnessing greatness on such a high level. Jagr, a finalist for the Hart that season, narrowly lost out to Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks.
On the Mark
In fact, the last Ranger player to earn most valuable player recognition from the hockey media was none other than the Messiah himself, Mark Messier in 1991-92. There are actually quite a few similarities between the season Messier had and the season Panarin is having. Easy now folks, I am not comparing the respective resumes of number 10 and number 11. However, the circumstances surrounding their arrivals on Broadway and their impacts on their teams are similar and substantial.
Unrestricted free agency for the NHLPA was still nothing more than a thought in the fall of 1991. Mark Messier wanted out of Edmonton, where he won five Stanley Cups and he forced the hand of then-general manager Glen Sather to trade the man known as “Moose” to New York. Messier was well aware of the “1940” monster and he wanted to be the man who slayed the unbeatable dragon. Which, he of course did on the night of June 14th, 1994.
In the summer of 2019, with unrestricted free agency a well-established amenity for NHL players who fit the criteria. whispers were abound of Artemi Panarin’s desire to take his immense talents to the Big Apple. Panarin, reportedly, turned down a boat load of “bread” from other organizations to accept the Rangers offer of 7 years and 81.5 million dollars.
Panarin’s MVP Path
Like Messier had before him, Panarin saw playing on the biggest stage in pro sports as a unique challenge. Like Messier, Panarin was not and is not intimated by the bright lights and enormous expectations. Like Messier, Panarin is thriving in an environment where countless other athletes across the New York sporting landscape have faltered. Like Messier, Panarin’s dynamic play and otherworldly intangibles have made the players around him better. And, Like Mark Messier, Artemi Panarin is proving he is well worth being handed the most lucrative contract in team history.
Currently, Panarin is just 15 points away from joining Messier and six others in the 100 point Blueshirt club. He has 20 games to accomplish that feat and judging by his production in recent games, Panarin seems to be a mere formality of joining that esteemed and honored group of legendary New York Rangers.
It certainly remains to be seen whether or not Panarin, Zibanejad and their stalwart teammates can shock the hockey world and carry this young Blueshirt team into the playoffs a year or two ahead of schedule. If this very likable group of Rangers is still playing hockey after the regular season finale against the Blackhawks on April 4th, one would expect Panarin to be the favorite to win the award named in honor of Canadian Dr. David Hart who donated the trophy to the NHL in 1924.