Teuvo Teravainen, not ‘Superman,’ arrives to Blackhawks
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter March 21, 2014 2:56PM
Updated: March 21, 2014 11:30PM
The most ballyhooed Blackhawks prospect since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane just wants to do his job, learn well and help his team win.
‘‘I don’t need to be Superman here,’’ 19-year-old forward Teuvo Teravainen said. ‘‘I’m just doing my things, and I hope I can help the team.’’
Those are relatively modest early goals for a player who has excited the masses. But that’s the way the Hawks want to handle the introduction of the talented Finn who joined the team Friday.
The last thing they want to do is throw the kid into the deep end. Teravainen did not play against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night. Coach Joel Quenneville said he probably will debut Sunday against the Nashville Predators or Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.
‘‘We want to be cautious — he’s a 19-year-old kid. He’s not coming in here to carry the team,’’ general manager Stan Bowman said. ‘‘We have high hopes for him in the future, but this is more an experience for him to come in and see what the NHL’s all about.’’
That’s a plan that should work on a team with as many established stars as the Hawks have. But the timing complicates matters. Teravainen enters as Kane begins a three-week rehabilitation for a lower-body injury presumed to be a sprained knee. Teravainen has Kane-like offensive skills and hockey intuition. But he’s still 19. It’s unlikely he’s ready for that role today.
‘‘Of course there are big expectations and pressure, but I don’t think of those too much,’’ the 5-11, 169-pound Teravainen said. ‘‘Everything I do here is a bonus. I’m just trying to have fun.’’
Still, Kane’s absence magnifies his presence. The real pressure is on Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and the supporting cast to pick up the slack for Kane and take the attention off Teravainen.
‘‘He’s going to come in here and be a piece of the puzzle,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘The strength of our team this year is [that] we use all four lines. He’ll fit in like the other guys on the team. We’re trying to be aware that there’s a lot of excitement around him, and understandably so. But he’s just another player on our team, and it’s a team sport.’’
Teravainen, the Hawks’ first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2012 draft, scored 44 points (nine goals, 35 assists) in 49 games with Jokerit of Helsinki this season. He led Finland to the championship game of the World Junior Championships with a tournament-leading 15 points (two goals, 13 points) in seven games.
‘‘Offensively, he has a great set of skills as far as puck possession and recognition of plays,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘The reports are that he’s progressed in the areas that he’s going to need to as a young player. But the things he does offensively are things you can’t teach. We look forward to seeing how that all plays out.’’