Listen closely. They’re out there.
“THIS KID IS TOO SOFT TO PLAY IN THE NHL!” they’ll say when they call into The Score in the afternoon.
“HE DOESN’T HIT ANYBODY!” they’ll yell from the tear-filled shrine to Brandon Bollig they’ve constructed in their basement.
“HE DOESN’T HAVE ANY OF THAT GRIT AND TOUGHNESS LIKE THOSE GUYS ON THE ’85 BEARS DID!” they’ll scream from the darkest corners of a dimly-lit bar.
They’re talking about Blackhawks forward Teuvo Teravainen. They’re refusing to change their minds.
And they’re going to be very, very wrong.
You’d think a fan base that watched Patrick Kane grow from a pint-sized No. 1 overall pick into one of the NHL’s most dangerous offensive weapons would’ve learned by now that smaller players can still be big contributors in hockey.
And the emphasis on Teravainen’s size (or lack thereof) is largely misplaced.
As the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc reported before this season, Teravainen bulked up to 180 pounds in the offseason. That puts him in a similar weight class with several current members of the Hawks roster: Patrick Kane (181 pounds), Marcus Kruger (181), Andrew Shaw (180) and Kris Versteeg (183).
And it’s not like this is his first time playing against larger opponents.
Beginning at the age of 17, Teravainen spent three years playing hockey in Finland’s SM-Liiga, the top division of Finnish hockey. While facing full-grown adults as a teenager, he racked up 75 points in 93 games in his last two seasons.
There’s unmistakable talent in Teravainen. Deadspin took notice of one of Teuvo’s early career highlights when he scored what appeared to be a no-look goal against Florida in February.
Watch that goal again. How many players would even have the hockey sense to attempt that, let alone the necessary skill to finish the play with a goal?
Teravainen caught the eyes of the rest of the league with that one play, but it’s been his consistent performance in each game that has gained the admiration of Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who’s been notoriously hesitant to insert young players into is lineup — just ask Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin.
“I think he’s really getting better,” Quenneville said in this story from Mark Lazerus of the Sun-Times. “He’s got some speed when he touches the puck, he’s good off entries, has [good] play recognition, and he’s got a lot of options. You’ve got to anticipate the puck coming to you when the puck’s on his stick. … He looks like he keeps getting better.”
He’s caught the attention of media outlets outside of Chicago with one play. He’s earned the respect of a coach who hasn’t always been trusting of young players.
What else does he have to do?
It’s Teuvo Time, Blackhawks fans. Embrace it.
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