Part of that good place is the life Panarin is crafting with his girlfriend, Alisa Znarok, and their Jack Russell terrier, Riziy, which means “redhead” in Russian. During his early months with the Rangers, his Instagram account showed them enjoying Manhattan, though they have since settled into a home in Greenwich, Conn., where Riziy playfully poses for photos for his own Instagram account.
“I love dogs,” Panarin said with a broad grin. “Maybe more than humans.”
Panarin grew up in Korkino, a coal-mining town of about 40,000 people about 1,100 miles east of Moscow. He was adopted and raised by his maternal grandparents after his parents divorced when he was an infant.
His grandfather Vladimir Levin, a former amateur player, supported and motivated young Artemi. His earliest ice lessons were at the Traktor ice hockey school in Chelyabinsk, about 25 miles from Korkino. Panarin eventually played parts of seven seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, including a 2015 championship with SKA St. Petersburg.
“There is nothing like, ‘O.K., I’m just going to stop here and this is O.K. for me,’” Znarok said of Panarin. “He puts pressure on himself to get better and better. It makes me proud.”
At 23, Panarin signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he won the Calder Trophy as the N.H.L.’s best rookie in 2015-16 playing alongside Patrick Kane. After two seasons each with the Blackhawks and the Blue Jackets, Panarin was an unrestricted free agent last summer, and one distinct option emerged.
“I just sat down for 10 minutes and really thought about it, and my heart told me that New York would be the better place for me,” Panarin said after signing a seven-year, $81.5 million contract with the Rangers in July. “I dreamed of playing for the Rangers. I like the people here. I feel the energy.”
Panarin, after being in the shadow of Kane and Jonathan Toews in Chicago and lacking national news media attention in Columbus, is in the spotlight in New York. In recent home games, he has taken to celebrating goals and other accolades with a Rockettes-style high kick.
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