The Chicago Blackhawks were midway through Friday morning’s skate when one of their newest members joined them. Pretty soon, he should be joining them in a game, too.
Teuvo Teravainen made his United Center debut, sort of, when he participated in the last few minutes of Chicago’s morning skate on Friday. For Teravainen, who just arrived in the states, it’s an opportunity to see what he can do. The 19-year-old had a tremendous season with Jokerit in his native Finland and he was also a star at the World Juniors, where Finland took home the gold medal.
“It’s a great thing for me,” Teravainen told the media throng on Friday morning. “It was bad that we lost in Finland but I still have a good opportunity to play hockey and it’s fun. I can bring something. I’ll try to play with my strengths and maybe some offense. I hope I can help.”
Now, when does he play? Obviously he needs some time to get acclimated and shake off some of that travel fatigue. But coach Joel Quenneville said Teravainen could be in the lineup soon – although it won’t be tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“Certainly today was too much to ask. We’ll give some consideration over the next day or so,” Quenneville said. “We want to get him on the ice, get him acclimated to his teammates and get him a little bit familiar with our team game. I’m sure tonight, watching for him will help ease him into the transition. I don’t want to say exactly when the date (is he’ll play) but hopefully we can get him in during this home stand, the next one or two games.”
Teravainen’s trip to Chicago has been a much-ballyhooed one. As Jokerit wrapped up its regular season and brief stint in the playoffs, “Teuvo watch” was in full swing. General manager Stan Bowman said on March 1 that he hoped Teravainen would join the Blackhawks at some point this season. But Bowman, speaking Friday morning, reiterated that the Blackhawks will not put overly lofty expectations on Teravainen.
“We want to be cautious about is: he’s a 19-year-old kid. He’s not coming in here to carry the team,” Bowman said. “We have high hopes for him in the future but this is more of an experience for him to come in and see what the NHL is all about. We’re pleased with his progress since we drafted him, and he showed he can be a dominant player in the top league in Finland. He’s going to come in here and be a piece of the puzzle. The strength of our team this year is the fact we use all four lines, Joel likes to give even minutes across the board and we’re not having Teuvo come in and replace anybody.”
That includes the irreplaceable Patrick Kane, who’s sidelined the next three weeks with a left leg injury. To make room for his contract – and Jeremy Morin, who was recalled from Rockford and will play in tonight’s game – the Blackhawks put Kane on long-term injured reserve. Per LTIR rules, Kane has to be out 10 games and 24 days, so he’s out until the start of the playoffs.
As far as Teravainen’s contract – if he plays in 10 games, the first year of his contract is “burned” -- the Blackhawks aren’t worried about it.
“If he’s here and helping us, it’s not a factor at all,” Bowman said. “I think sometimes you can get caught up in that. But whether he plays two games, 10 games or 20 games, it’s not a factor.”
Teravainen was admittedly tired on Friday morning. He’ll take a few days to rest, get used to the Blackhawks and then he’ll see what he can do on the NHL stage.
“I’m just trying to get my own game, my own strengths. I’m trying to play my own game,” he said. “I if I try to defend well and offensively play my best, I think it’s enough.”